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Milestone-Proposal:Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC)

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Docket #:2010-02

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone Nomination

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on "Edit with form", check the "Submit this proposal for review" box at the bottom, and save the page.


Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old?


Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution)


Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity?


Was it of at least regional importance?


Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)?


Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony?


Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated?


Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes


Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

Development began in 1962, prototype was under test in 1964, first flight operation in 1966, continued operational use until 1972

Title of the proposed milestone:

Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC)

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:


In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Boston MA

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):


IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:


IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):


Milestone proposer(s):


Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Cambridge MA.

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.

Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, of Cambridge, MA, home of Charles Stark Draper, the man who lead the efforts of MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, the place where AGC was invented and developed. A second milestone plaque is being considered for the MIT campus.

Are the original buildings extant?

No

Details of the plaque mounting:


How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The plaque will be mounted for viewing by the general public at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Cambridge. The plaque will be located outside any of its secured perimeter.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc

A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:


A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:


What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

AGC and the associated Guidance, Navigation and Control System components made possible the Lunar Rendezvous Mode Trajectory used by the Apollo Program to put the first human beings on the moon and return them safely to earth

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The Apollo Program was a very high profile nationally significant techno-political project with a had deadline. Many politicians, and bureaucrats interjected themselves into the finances, selection of venues for facilities, contractors, personnel, etc. On top of the above the success of the AGC was Mission Critical to the Apollo Program especially after the fatal fire on the launch pad of the prototype Apollo Command Module..

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

AGC was a true pioneer: a mission-critical real-time, embedded digital computer system built using commercial integrated circuits

References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.


Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to ieee-history@ieee.org. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.