Ever wonder about the computers which guided the Apollo moon landing 50 years ago today? One was unknowingly purchased in a Nasa garage sale by Texas resident Jimmie Loocke (purple polo.) I headed to Silicon Valley for The Wall Street Journal to photograph a group of amateur tech anthropologists as they began a two week at-home refurbishing project to get Loocke’s Apollo Guidance Computer (ACG) up and running.
These moonshot machines were the world’s first general-purpose, portable, digital computers, the first to fly and the first on which human lives directly depended. If all went well, the group would run the computer programs that, a half-century ago, put astronauts on the moon.
Barely two dozen Apollo onboard computers remain in museums or private hands. According to computer historians, no one has turned one on in generations.