47 years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module and onto the surface of the moon. For the first time in human history, a man walked on the surface of a different celestial object (can’t really call the moon a planet can I?). All of seven years old, I sat in front of our family’s tiny black and white tv watching the historic moment.
In 1969, we all used rotary phones and rotating platters of vinyl under a thin needle to produce sound. Everyone smoked cigarettes thinking they were cool. Presidents were Presidential. Starting with 2001, A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien, Battlestar Galactica and their ilk, the idea of space travel feels almost commonplace. But in 1969, nothing was certain – and nothing was easy.
This modest tweet made its way into my feed earlier today:
And by source code, we mean Assembler code. Yea – we made it to the moon with Assembler code. I’m guessing most everyone reading this has little understanding of what it takes to program in an environment that measures space in Ks – not Ms, not Gs, not Ts. The phone I slip into my pocket every morning has several orders of magnitude greater storage and computing capacity than the one cubic foot computer which rode to the moon.
There are still people walking the face of the earth who wrote Assembler code to get the Lunar Module to the surface of the moon.
If you are a real nerd, you can read the actual source code on Github. Yea, that’s right. The actual Apollo 11 source code is on Github.
July 21st came and went and I neglected to post this. I’ve post-dated the post, but this is actually being published in August.
Updated 12/28/2016: The link in Brian Carpenter’s original Tweet no longer redirects to the article URL. The Hackaday link was likely renamed after the Tweet was posted with a forwarding link being provided. Here’s the current link.