The software that guided humans to the Moon was one of the greatest innovations developed during the Apollo program. It introduced concepts still reflected in modern operating systems and programming languages like Linux and Python.

In this series, we'll explore the software of the Apollo Guidance Computer. You'll learn how it worked, how to debug it, and how it influenced modern software. It may even change the way you think about the computer you're reading these words on.

Part 1

The Software that Saved Apollo 11

While Neil Armstrong was taking his first small steps onto the Moon, a group of software engineers in Cambridge, MA were frantically debugging two alarms triggered during the Apollo 11 landing. NASA wanted to know what had gone wrong and needed an answer before the Lunar Module (LM) was scheduled to lift off the Moon's surface only a few hours later.

Part 2

Project Apollo's Digital Brain

You'll learn how to run the Apollo Guidance Computer software in an emulator and debug some simple actions. These tools will prepare you to investigate the alarms that were triggered during the Apollo 11 lunar descent.

Part 3

We're Go On That Alarm: Inside the Apollo Operating System

In this post, you'll learn how the AGC operating system handled interrupts with mechanisms similar to those used today. We'll get to the bottom of the Apollo 11 alarms, and then look at what modern operating systems like Linux have borrowed from the Apollo Guidance Computer.


About the Author