Friday, May 27, 2016

Computers and their peripherals, old and even older

I just read the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) 2015 report: Improving the Management of IT Acquisitions and Operations about "federal IT investments too frequently fail or incur cost overruns and schedule slippages while contributing little to mission-related outcomes" which is an outcome not unique to the U.S. government by any means!

It got me thinking yet again about old computers and old software, and the reliability of these today and in the past. See my earlier post: If it’s safe enough for NASA, then it’s good enough for me (software coding rules)
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The other day I stumbled upon another fascinating tale about hardware, software and user interfaces between the two, that I strongly recommend. Be sure to read  Apollo Guidance Computer: A Users View (PDF) by astronaut David Scott.

Just think about it. Jet-setting to and vacationing on the Moon, back in the 1960s, with your life relying on computing equipment about as powerful as a $5 wristwatch these days.

But most of us were unaware of all this as we gathered boggle-eyed around out TV sets to watch grainy live broadcasts of the various Apollo landings – not to forget the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.

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