Apollo Guidance Computer clone


[Cliff Miller] pointed out this incredible project from 2004. [John Pultorak]‘s journey began in late 2000 when he decided to build a 60’s or 70’s era minicomputer. While gathering technical documentation, he found some interesting information on the Apollo Guidance Computer and felt that was the way to go. The AGC was the first integrated circuit computer ever built. Designed by MIT in 1964 it was constructed from ~5000 ICs, almost all 3-input NOR gates. [John]‘s version uses late 1960’s 74LS TTL logic which gains him a 10 to 1 reduction in the number of ICs. A good thing when you have to do ~15K wirewrap connections. He also used flipflops and register chips instead of building everything from NOR gates. [John] essentially built the AGC three times: First, he coded a simulator in C++. Then, he imported the logic design into CircuitMaker to verify that it would actually work. Finally, he built the 3 by 5foot machine. He’s provided an amazing amount of documentation for anyone that wants to explore this device and the overview alone is well worth a look.

Comments

  1. Cliff Miller says:

    Hackaday readers may also enjoy this link, http://www.doneyles.com/LM/Tales.html. Don Eyles, one of the software engineers on the AGC, provides a first-hand report of developing the original software and supporting a system located 250,000 miles away. He provides explanations of inertial guidance and the state of the art in the 60s. Most enjoyable.

  2. Shadyman says:

    Sweet! Good job!

  3. nick says:

    Big props to that guy. That guy is pretty good, considering working with “and nand nor” gates because those allways gave me a hard time in class. using a couple of filpflops inverters and register chips makes it faster and more reliable than a bunch of nor gates. this guy deserves some massive props for pulling this off and the conversion from nor to other.

  4. Alexander says:

    now all he needs is a space program with some real goals.

  5. PKM says:

    And I thought building a 4-bit processor in Logisim was a big job… wow, is all I can say. It has flashy lights! Unlike the earliest computers, which had to have blinking christmas lights installed in them so they would look the part to secure more funding when the relevant ministry came to visit :)

  6. Hugh Wren says:

    but remember, this would never have happened if it werent

    for collossus.

    even bigger respect to the guy who spent 14 years

    re-building it from a few photos and some scraps of

    circuit diagram

    im british, so thats probably why im making this point

    THE BRITISH DID IT FIRST

  7. ohommes says:

    If you are interested in running the AGC code (either Colossus or

    Luminaryyourself in an IDE like Code::Blocks the visit:

    http://virtualagc.googlecode.com

    Get a read-only copy of the sources and install Code:;Blocks.

    Together with the LM simulator you can take the 1960’s code of

    Apollo for a spin and learn how the astronauts interacted with the

    computer.

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  9. Rose says:

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