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Restorers Try to Get Lunar Module Guidance Computer Up and Running | WSJ


– [Jimmie] I feel it’s one
of the most, if not the most important computers ever built. To me, it was the heart of the mission. We wouldn’t have went to the moon without the Apollo Guidance Computer. This may be the only time
an Apollo Guidance Computer is powered up, because this
has not been an easy task. It’s not just like we plug it in and go. It’s going to be a real monumental, it’s a monumental task, I would say. – Okay. Three, two, one, zero. We are impatiently awaiting the arrival of the Apollo Guidance
Computer, which was the computer that guided, basically, man to the moon. And we have a rare opportunity
to be able to restore it. – [Reporter] This is Marc Verdiell. He’s Chief Technology
Officer of a computer company called Samtec and lives in Silicon Valley. But his real passion is
restoring old vintage computers. He has a popular YouTube
channel where he makes videos like this. – [Marc] Woo-hoo! It’s doing something weird! – [Reporter] That’s what led
him to his most challenging restoration project yet, and
the unlikely man behind it, Jimmie Wayne Loocke. Loocke was hunting for electronic parts in an industrial area
outside of Houston in 1976 when he happened upon a warehouse that was looking to sell
some bulk electronics for scrap metal. – As soon as I walked into the place, I started looking around
and I started seeing things that I recognized as being
from the space program. – [Reporter] Loocke had actually worked briefly at NASA in Houston
as a low level technician, and so he was familiar
with some of the equipment. – [Marc] Basically, he bought
two tons of Apollo scrap, not having a really good
idea of what was in it. And eventually, he found out that in the pile of scrap he had, there was this Apollo Guidance Computer, which is the gem of his collection. – [Reporter] For decades, he let the Apollo Guidance
Computer discarded by NASA gather dust in storage until, one day, he decided to dig the machine out and to figure out what it was for. He was stunned by what he discovered. The electronic box he assumed was junk had actually been used to
test the Apollo lunar landers for the missions that first
landed men on the moon. – [Narrator] This guidance
and navigation system will be mounted in an Apollo spacecraft to aid our three
astronauts on their voyage to the moon and return. – [Reporter] Loocke soon found out that the Apollo Guidance Computer, or AGC, was at the time the most
advanced compact computer ever built. It was the first computer
to use integrated circuits, the backbone of modern electronics. It was the world’s first general
purpose, portable computer, the first to fly, and the
first on which human lives directly depended. Only a few were built, and
computer geeks have come to prize these innovative moon machines. But still, he didn’t know
what to do with his AGC until he went to a space
convention and met Mike Stewart, a space flight software engineer fascinated with the vintage machine, who then connected him with Verdiell and his small crew of
vintage computer restorers. And soon, the plan was hatched. This unlikely group
would attempt to restore and power up an Apollo Guidance Computer for the first time since the
moon landing 50 years ago. – [Neil] One giant leap for mankind. – [Marc] Ooh. Sorry guys, I have camera in hand. – [Reporter] The team
first flew out to Houston, checked into a hotel,
and turned their room into a makeshift laboratory, where they spent a week
assessing the computer, documenting the process on
Verdiell’s YouTube channel. – [Marc] Well, should we bow? This is the holy computer. – [Reporter] But they needed
more time and more equipment, so they asked Loocke to fly to
Silicon Valley with his AGC. Several months later, Loocke arrived at Verdiell’s home laboratory
with the computer in tow. – That’s still freaking heavy. – [Reporter] And the crew
went straight to work. – It’s still there! – [Reporter] The task ahead was daunting. They had to work twelve hours a day for almost fourteen straight days. – I have news for you. The pins are corroded and damaged, and I’m trying to figure out the extent of the damage. – How are they looking, Marc? – [Marc] Not good. – [Reporter] They dissected the machine, ran every diagnostic test they could, cleaned memory cores,
repaired broken wires, racing to power on the computer and attempt a test flight. – We all would like to
kind of have it repaired and then build a rocket
and go to the moon, but we can’t quite do that. The next step is to fly part of the mission and repeat what the astronauts were doing with the computer. – [Reporter] After nearly
two weeks of nonstop work, they’d reached the moment of truth. The crew gathered in Verdiell’s
basement with some friends to try and power on the AGC and attempt a test flight mission. – Three, two, one, zero. 2.27. Oh, it’s running. – Yeah, we got a display. – [Marc] On its own memory? – Yeah, on its own memory. (cheering and applauding) – [Marc] We have almost landed. For us, it’s the equivalent
of the moon landing. – [Mike] This is the
first time in 45 years anybody has turned this computer on, any computer of this model,
any Apollo Guidance Computer on and operated it. And the burn has started, so it’s now trying to fire the engine. This second register here
is now displaying our altitude rate. This is pretty much identical to what they would have seen on the real mission. – [Reporter] For his part,
Loocke hopes this project will help a younger generation
learn how this computer helped astronauts fly to the moon, and, in the process, helped pave the way for the advanced computers
we all depend on today. – We need to preserve the legacy of this computer. In other words, future generations need to understand
where all this came from 200 years from now. I want them to be able to see the Apollo Guidance Computer. (bright music)

Glenn Chapman

100 Comments

  1. Really cool that a guy like Jimmie managed to find that computer. What cool project!

  2. Shame we lost the technology and we can't go ''back'' to the ''moon'' like we ''did'' in the 60s.

  3. Instead, why don't you find the telemetey data from the Apollo missions? This seems like a waste of time.

  4. Selling the most important computer ever for scrap? Seems legit.

  5. 🤣😂🤣😂🤣 gullible geeks! We NEVER WENT TO THE MOON! Why don’t you show us how you managed to broadcast a t.v. signal with no delay from 240,000 miles away with a small car battery and a 5 foot antenna !? Impossible!!

  6. Very impressive! But can it run Minecraft with basic shaders? That's the biggest challenge of them all

  7. Our modern computers have tons of memory and CPU speed, just to watch porn and memes.

  8. NASA must have forgotten to destroy this along with all of the Apollo film footage, the player to play the video on as well as the blueprints for the Lem and the rover. LOL 😂 who still believes we went to the moon. Guess they never saw the Fox special from 2000

  9. You can draw line connecting NASA’s creation of mobile computing power and the smartphone in your hand or the PC on your desk. It would have eventually happened anyway, but we wouldn’t have smartphones yet, and we’d still be using something like DOS.

  10. Dont forget that in 69 an Etch a Sketch was a scary piece of equipment for many

  11. Im just happy the computer actually worked so i guess we did go to the moon???? Hopefully

  12. "I'd go to the moon in a nanosecond. The problem is we can't do that anymore. We used to, but we destroyed the technology, and it's a painful process to build it back again" – Don Pettit, NASA.

    The moon landings never happened. They were filmed in a studio i Hollywood. The whole world was fooled.

  13. Hey WSJ, youtube put the disclaimer ad below your video reserved for nasa deniers and apollo po-po’ers….wonder why?

  14. This is awesome however why is the main host in this video whispering like he is recording this video in his house at 3am In the morning. Speak up dude a little more enthusiasm wouldn't hurt.

  15. The extraordinary effort and cost just to hoax Flat Earthers’ really doesn’t need to be this complicated – and yet it is….
    I’d love to slap Mark Sargent’s forehead, just to see if the frontal lobes are connected to anything.

  16. The only thing I dont understand is if we are so much more advanced today….how is it that we cant go back to the moon? They say we dont have the technology anymore. That it's been tossed out and cant be redesigned. But then I hear how small and weak the computers were for this flight. How its processing power was on par with modern day calculators. I have heard several NASA reps say this. It doesn't make any sense. But what do I know I'm just an idiot with a laptop.

  17. If you are a space enthusiast, or a technology buff, or an engineer, or a computer geek, or a rocket scientist, or just someone who can appreciate the epic historical significance of the Apollo program, go to Marc Verdiell's channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3bosUr3WlKYm4sBaLs-Adw and look for the 'Apollo AGC' playlist. There are over 20 videos about the restoration of this AGC, but if you follow them through one by one you will get a glimpse of electronic genius at work (and by this I include the designers and manufacturers of the AGC as well as Marc and his team) and by the end, if you are like me, you will be cheering as they use Jimmie Loocke's scrap AGC to simulate a Moon landing.

  18. If you follow the instructions from the computer it will guide you to a Hollywood Filming Studio

  19. do not forget there was a live tv transmission from the moon, what a scam of the century

  20. Why don’t they repair some legacy healthcare equipment to be sent to a 3rd world country? Well, that’s why we live in the USA. They are free to do what they please.

  21. K, i see it can show numbers on a display. So, all this hype is about an electroluminescent display controller? Fascinating!

  22. Oh that must be the technology they lost and the reason nasa says we can’t go back to the moon…

  23. My Galaxy Note 8 is a way more advanced computer than that oversized calculator lol

  24. Wow. What a coincidence! The funder of this video is NASA. The director of this video is an ex-NASA employee. And, by a "miraculous" chance, the director of this video suddenly remembered the "original Apollo Guidance Computer" that he had found, when it was being sold for scrap, forty six years ago. And now….just as ASSA's credibility and justification for spending it's very lavish $50,000 a day budget is becoming paper thin, the agency "suddenly decides" to publish a credibility boosting video that supports the Establishment line on the lunar fakery. What a massive "coincidence"!

  25. When I saw the numbers pop up on the telemetry, all the hairs on my arms stood up. Whoa!!! 😊😊😊

  26. If your willing to watch the 26 or so parts on Marc's channel its amazing what they had to do and test to get it to work. that Mike is one smart frigging guy and new that computer inside and out even before it was taken apart.

  27. When androids rule the world they will be thankful and, therefore, merciful to their organic creators for keeping alive their ancestors.

  28. How incredible. We have lost so much from an absolutely amazing time in human history

  29. Lies they never went to the moon. Biggest fraud in history carried out by freemasons

  30. Because so many people are realizing the moon landing was faked and we so called lost the technology.nasa now gets a bunch of guys together that so called found the computers in the back of a Wal-Mart dumpster and are now going to get us there yeah rite😂

  31. Moon hoax
    https://youtu.be/1zHSEPe4N-U

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/space/6105902/Moon-rock-given-to-Holland-by-Neil-Armstrong-and-Buzz-Aldrin-is-fake.html

    Challenger crew
    https://youtu.be/onvrXWA3gHk

    Fake earth shot
    https://youtu.be/mCHG6uJH5L8

    Sofia = Hubble
    https://youtu.be/SIfp0lIpyxs

  32. The most important computer in human history and it was found in a scrap metal warehouse.

  33. They said they don’t have the technology to go to the moon again. Isn’t it hard wired into this computer.

  34. I CAN NOT believe that computer was scrapped. It belongs in a museum, or teaching school. SOMETHING BETTER THAN MELTED DOWN!

  35. It is VERY impressive and interesting, but once they get it fully operational, what will they do with it? Donate it to a museum where it will be displayed with some of the LEDs lit?

  36. Amazing project guys and thanks for preserving such important history! I guess this iPhone I’m holding could have taken 100 Apollo 11’s to the moon at the same time. Of course it would need to he charged a few times. 🤪

  37. Another discarded piece of the most important event in human history 🤔😒
    The moon landing did happen….. honestly It did.

  38. Great work, some smart people around , unlike the people who think space exploration and moon landings are all a hoax , you none believers should be ashamed of yourselves.

  39. What a noble challenge: putting the effort to preserve for future generations this computer system and hard wired programming.

  40. the final touch would have been to use an old tube fired tektroniks scope.

    i miss my old tube scope. could do really nasty things to it without it blowing smoke…and being analogue… far better resolution without the discrete steps.

    eventually one of its 52 tubes failed… never figured out which one. i make amps, not test equipment!

  41. I don’t believe they ever went to the moon when they said they did. Listen it’s 2019 our technology has told us the truth because it’s made us look back at what we did have an no now we could never of done it. The government shot them selfs in the foot massively. What muppets loool what was they thinking technology was never going to move forward looooool you silly Billy’s lol

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