In the Fortune Magazine video IBM's Moonshot: Past and Future with the notes

BM’s John Kelly reflects on Apollo 11’s historic mission and looks forward to what future technology will accomplish.

Kelly says (starting after 01:20):

We at IBM are very proud of our history with the space program. all the way from the early days of working with the Department of Defense and some of the first satellites that were put into space, through the Mercury Gemini programs, and of course into the Apollo program, culmination in putting a man on the Moon.

IBM, through the course of the Apollo program had over 4,000 IBMers working on that program, developing the computer systems, writing the software present in the control centers. We were responsible for writing the control programs for the rocket telemetry and trajectory; we were responsible for the computing and sensing of the behavior of the rockets and the capsule as it was launched, and as it was guided into orbit and then out of orbit, and then sensing the capsule information and bringing it back in making course corrections as we went through.

There are several shots of different locations and equipment during the Apollo missions. I've included four screen shots below.

Question: Where are these historical IBM + Apollo related locations within NASA and what do each of these computers (or consoles) do?

For one of them the answer is likely to be found in this answer but I've included the screenshot for completeness.

Note the IBM shirt logos in three of them: What do these three historical IBM staff at NASA insignias designate?

Click each of the images to display full size:

Fortune Magazine video IBM's Moonshot: Past and Future Fortune Magazine video IBM's Moonshot: Past and Future

Fortune Magazine video IBM's Moonshot: Past and Future Fortune Magazine video IBM's Moonshot: Past and Future

cued at 01:20 (caution, there is very loud cheering 1 second earlier)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Photo #2 is clearly the Saturn Instrumentation Unit, for which IBM was the contractor. Many of the support computers in mission control were IBM System 360's, which might be shown in photo #1. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Jul 24, 2019 at 0:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ None of those photos show Johnson Space Center Mission Control, at least not the "front room". $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2019 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon I'm reasonably familiar with Building 30 at JSC, I worked in it for 15 years. MOCR is old school, it's the FCR now. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2019 at 13:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Photo #4 shows two IBM 7094 consoles (one on the left and one on the right). An earlier photo shows IBM 7090 computers instead: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NASAComputerRoom7090.NARA.jpg $\endgroup$ May 9 at 20:04

1 Answer 1

  • Upper left: KSC control room for the Instrument Unit during the launch of Apollo 8. I am not sure if this is the Launch Control Center Firing Room or a back room. I think a back room. (reference)
  • Upper right - the Instrument Unit itself as described in this answer
  • Lower left - Launch Control Center Firing Room at KSC, looking away from the window (the consoles faced away from the window). A picture labeled as such, maybe even from the same photo shoot, is here. The controllers are turned around and either looking out the window or being addressed by the Launch Director here.

First three pictures - What do these (IBM) computers do: See the linked answer about the Instrument Unit.

  • Lower right - Manned Space Flight Network control center at Goddard Space Flight Center (reference)

Last picture - What do these (IBM) computers do: Command and control the Manned Space Flight Network communication systems.


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