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[MUSIC PLAYING] BROWN: The reason we’ve
got people here today is that this is part of
a series of, I guess, group oral histories,
where we’re trying to get people together
who were involved in the Apollo guidance project and
just get you to tell us a few of your stories. Just tell us a little bit
about your experiences, what you really
like about working on this particular project. This is part of a larger, a
much, much larger project, which breaks down into five
units of which we are one. We’re studying the
Apollo guidance computer. There are also projects
that are studying the history of materials science
on the rise of bioinformatics, on the dispute of the
physics about the process of renormalization, and
there is one other one– MINDELL: Material
science, renormalization. BROWN: Bioinformatics. MINDELL: Bioinformatics,
molecular evolution. BROWN: Molecular evolution. MINDELL: Pretty broad coverage
in the history of science, but we’re really the
only engineering one. BROWN: And this is
part of a project that has a couple of items. The first one is
really to figure out how to do research into
very large projects in recent history of
science and technology. Historians tend to find that
the further back they go, the easier it is to
manage your sources. There are a lot less
things to deal with. Once you start to deal
with projects in science and engineering post
the Second World War, it starts to become
a problem of how to manage the huge
amount of information that you have access to and
huge amount of information that might bear on your
particular project. So one of the things that we’re
doing as part of this exercise is really an investigation. How do we tell the history
of such a large scale project, as something like
the Apollo guidance computer? And another thrust
of the project is really to figure out what
use the world wide web is going to be in helping us
with these kinds of things. And as you can see, and
I know that some of you have seen this, we
have put together a website, which is an
ongoing project, which is gathering together the
information that we gather, and the results of these
kinds of conferences, to make this available both
to us through our research, and to other people in
the historical community to do their research, and to
people in the wider community. You’d be surprised how
much interest there is in the wider community. Since we put this
web site up, we would get emails,
some random emails, from members of the
public on a regular basis, either asking us
about the website, telling us about information
that’s out there, asking questions about the
information that’s on there. There was a guy
who was attempting to rebuild one of
these machines, and he’s had some
communication with us. There’s a lot of interest there. HALL: Lots of luck. BATES: Was he the
guy in Venezuela? BROWN: No, this is
a different one. SPEAKER: This is
a different guy. There’s one trying to
program the simulator– BROWN: Yeah. SPEAKER: –on the PC too. Did he contact here yet? BROWN: He sent me a
very brief email saying, this is what I’m trying to do. But he hasn’t send
any results yet. We shall see. HANLEY: [INAUDIBLE] BROWN: Yeah. There’s a guy who
actually, apparently, judging from the email that
he sent me, actually wants to rebuild with the hardware. He wants to go from scratch. HANLEY: You can never do that. SPEAKER: Don’t tell him. SPEAKER: We don’t even
know how we did it. HANLEY: A good example is when
Eldon was the Trident program, and he had to get diodes. And he went to Fairchild
and he wanted diodes with given specs for
the Trident program. And they couldn’t do it. They said they couldn’t do it. And then he pulled
out of his pocket a whole bunch of
Fairchild diodes from the Apollo program that
met all of the specifications. These people just don’t
know how to do it anymore. I’ll keep quiet. SPEAKER: We’re
recording some of this. SPEAKER: We are. BROWN: I thought I’d jsut very
briefly run through the website and explain one or two things
that we are doing here. We’ve already run a
couple of conferences, and I know there are
people here today who should have been at
the first conference. It’s surprisingly difficult
sometimes to track them down. So as we hold these conferences,
we put these up on the web. So there are lots of
familiar faces there. Then we make the transcriptions
of those conferences available. We also are gathering
documents and scanning these and putting these on the web. This is, I guess, perhaps
a sort of complement to the oral histories,
the accounts, where you can actually
get your hands on– SPEAKER: What kind of documents? HALL: There’s a whole
bunch of them on the web. BROWN: I can give
you an example. HALL: I assume NASA still
has a library of [INAUDIBLE].. SPEAKER: No, they founded that. They did have a library. MINDELL: NASA is–
yeah, actually. I was down at NASA last
week, and actually, they’re very happy and very
supportive of this project. SPEAKER: Down in Houston? MINDELL: No, not in Houston. In Washington at the
[? first ?] place. All the good stuff’s
in Houston and all of the bureaucratic
stuff’s in Washington. It turns out we have to get
NASA to let Draper have us, to tell Draper they let us
have access to a lot of paper archives as well. Even though NASA
doesn’t think so. But that’s another story. POUNDSTONE: Does Draper still
got all the drawings archived? HALL: We’re trying to
find the drawings at home. I don’t know. It seems like they should
be there someplace. Nobody there knows, even
they run the Apollo program. So they don’t know
where the drawings are. BATES: Well, it’s the
same problem in Raytheon. I tried to go in and
find archives in Raytheon and they’re worried about
tomorrow, not yesterday. POUNDSTONE: But I do know the
aperture cards were saved. HALL: Well, they were, but
where are those aperture cards? POUNDSTONE: They
were shipped to NASA. HALL: You think so? POUNDSTONE: Yes. It was a contract requirement. HALL: Well, I would think so. Then NASA must have
them someplace. But I had a copy that I sent
to the American Computer Museum up in Bozeman, Montana. And I can get those
back, if necessary. It’s better to send
those aperture cards. POUNDSTONE: For
some strange reason, back when I was
working, I got picked to go to a conference
in Washington that held by the Smithsonian,
a similar organization. I forget what it
was, but it had to do with archiving and maintaining
the history of all kinds of various special projects. And they had
representatives from Boeing and Grumman and Lockheed,
and everybody in the country was there. And I learned about some of
the details of how they do it and all the problems of storing
documents, and all that. But the one you spoke
of is a common problem in the whole aerospace industry. Although there are historians
and archives who would just love to get a hold
of this stuff, the companies could care less. There’s a few
companies that do it. Boeing had done some on theirs. But most companies,
they’re, you know. And when I went
back to my company and tried to report
that there was a lot of interest in the air,
I got the same old, who cares? MINDELL: Most
history of technology ends up getting written about
government and universities. POUNDSTONE: Well, you
can’t make any money doing it is the problem, and
we’re money making people. MINDELL: The companies
are classically– [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: Is that Cline? SPEAKER: That’s Cline. POUNDSTONE: Jack Poundstone. FRASIER: Hi, Jack. Long time, no see. POUNDSTONE: Good to see you. BATES: Dave Bates. How are you? [INTERPOSING VOICES] [SIDE CONVERSATIONS] SPEAKER: He’s not here yet. SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE]
is coming, I know. SPEAKER: Oh, he is? SPEAKER: Yeah, because
I generally [INAUDIBLE].. SPEAKER: Bart said
he was coming? SPEAKER: Yeah. SPEAKER: OK, good. BATES: I ran into the same
thing as he just said. I mean, they’re
worried about tomorrow. They’re not worrying
about yesterday, OK. And I couldn’t
find any pictures, or anything else like that. POUNDSTONE: Well, I know in
our company, Raytheon, is now– there is a retiree who’s working
up in Lexington who is actively trying to develop a– I guess it’s more of a museum. BATES: A museum, yeah. POUNDSTONE: Of hardware
and pictures and things. He’s been on the phone
with me several times, wanting me to produce stuff like
this, which I never got around to until I got ready to
come to this meeting. But I don’t know if he ever
got a hold of you or not. I gave him your name. BATES: He’s only
open on Thursdays. POUNDSTONE: Yeah. Well, it’s a retiree
who’s not being paid. All the company ever
did is giving him a little space in the building
they didn’t know what else to do. SPEAKER: Who is that? POUNDSTONE: I forget his name. Smith? BATES: Yeah, Smith, I think. POUNDSTONE: Some guy
from [INAUDIBLE].. BATES: [INAUDIBLE] in Lexington. POUNDSTONE: But anyway, I
think that’s typical of what– the only reason it’s happening
is because the retiree is interested. The company could care less. MINDELL: More often,
companies actively– I mean, they worry a
lot about liabilities. And they destroy as they can. POUNDSTONE: Well then, of
course, the government policy say you’re supposed
to do that anyway. You almost have to cheat to
keep an old piece of hardware. Of course, that never
bothered Draper. I notice you guys used
to do it all the time. FRASIER: Actually,
the guys at Delco managed to find all
the pieces, I think, for a complete system
for one of the reunions they had about three years ago. So at their reunion
in Milwaukee they had laid out on the table
all the major pieces– I think they had
a computer, too. POUNDSTONE: I remember
one time, somebody went to one of these
junkyards and found a PIPA. And they picked it
up for $1 or two and gave it to the
gentleman and me. BATES: It was right over
here in the back area. He used to buy it by the pound. SPEAKER: Do you remember
what the name of that was. BLAIR-SMITH: If you talk
about old-time packaging, do you remember Dimitri Grabee? SPEAKER: Who? BLAIR-SMITH: Dimitri Grabee. SPEAKER: Grabee, yeah. BLAIR-SMITH: He was
the one that holds the patent on the
multi-layer board technology. SPEAKER: Yeah, we
made the [INAUDIBLE] out of their boards. POUNDSTONE: Who did he work for? BLAIR-SMITH: What? POUNDSTONE: Who did he work for? BLAIR-SMITH: Photocircuits,
I think, at the time. Anyway, the only reason
why I mention that is he has a fantastic museum, of all
types of [? patented ?] stuff. Anything that he ever met with. HALL: And one of
these, he walked out of the lab with the
logic tray at block one. Now, how he got out of
the lab, I don’t know. [LAUGHTER] [INAUDIBLE] POUNDSTONE: Like I
said, Draper was never too particular about the rules. HALL: I would have gladly walked
out with it if I could have. BROWN: So as I– HALL: He did. OK. BROWN: Oh, I’m sorry. So as I said, we’re
collecting documents. We’re collecting photos. So I guess I’ll put out
a plea at this point. If you guys have documents
or photos or anything in your basement
or any memorabilia that you might have, we
would love to see this. We’d like to scan it,
put it on the web, make it available for posterity. POUNDSTONE: Did you
ever get a computer? BROWN: No, we did not manage
to get a computer yet. POUNDSTONE: [INAUDIBLE]
the Smithsonian has a bunch of them. SPEAKER: We shipped five
down out of the Smithsonian, as I remember. They’ve got one on display. They used to have it working. And we had a contract
to service it. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: I think they actually
have a computer on display, don’t they? BATES: That’s right. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: If you went down
and asked, you might get one. SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE]
a long time ago. They had a block two, you
know, the gold anodized one. [INAUDIBLE] SPEAKER: It’s not there
anymore, I don’t think. SPEAKER: Oh, really? BATES: Did you ask him about
looking into their warehouse? Because that’s where
they shipped them all. SPEAKER: Well, they also sent
one of them back up here. MIT Museum has one. SPEAKER: Well, is complete now? [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: Just the memory tray? SPEAKER: Just memory tray. HALL: Well, did you check that? INTERVIEWER: What? HALL: The [INAUDIBLE]
Bell, out there in Moffett Field, that museum. BROWN: No, [INAUDIBLE]. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: That’s amazing. Where’s that one then? SPEAKER: Well, I had one once. I don’t where it– but
[INAUDIBLE] probably [INAUDIBLE]. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: We had a display case. Jack wanted the display case
with all the stuff that we had. We have brought people in. You could show him what we had. And he had all the stuff
from the standpoint of the integrated
circuits and the diodes and everything else,
both raw and plastic that we got from the
lines that we had there. But we also had an
Apollo computer. And what happened
with that Zagrodnik should know because he was the
last program manager, I think. POUNDSTONE: No, it was
right in front of my office. BATES: Yeah. POUNDSTONE: Perhaps
it’s still there. I don’t know. BATES: No. I’ve been in there lately, yeah. It’s not there. Let me run it down. Just give me the assigment,
and I’ll go ahead and do it. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: Let’s just finish
up with our [INAUDIBLE].. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: Excuse us, Alex. We talk a lot. BROWN: So as I said, we’re
collecting documents. There are other features of
the website, which include comment forums, in particular. So once we’ve had
this conference, we would like to invite you
guys to go to the website, log on, and just pass comment,
if you have any comments to make, about the transcripts. And this is part
of the exercise is to encourage this
online interaction so we can get a little bit of
debate and a little bit if [INAUDIBLE]. HALL: On that point,
it’s not clear to me, even, how do you make comments? Even though I’ve been
supposedly on the inside. BROWN: Yeah, this is
kind of embarrassing. This is not an
aspect of the project that we have a great
deal of control over. I’m assured by the people
who manage the larger website that they are putting
time and effort into making this more user friendly. HALL: Because I can put
in quite a few comments. POUNDSTONE: I assume at the
moment, you could email him. BROWN: You could
certainly email me. As you can see, the
transcripts are already up. And so if you would like to read
those and email me comments, I would be more than
happy to [INAUDIBLE].. POUNDSTONE: Well, I notice
there’s quite a few question marks in places
where you couldn’t understand what they said. Somebody can fill those in. MINDELL: The website
requires that you log in. So if we have all
your email addresses, you just log in with your email
address, make up a password. And then when you
log in, it allows you to comment in their
discussion forums. And a lot of the idea is
that of the projects that are on the site, the other
scientists people are studying, we’re fortunate that we
have the only one that’s really inherently localized
to Cambridge, Massachusetts. And so we figured we’ll
start by getting everybody, as many people as we
can, who are around here, in a room talking and
then hopefully make a clean segue to either you
guys or other people who are not able to come to Cambridge,
who can then participate in the conversations as well. So in a way, everything
we do here today and what we’ve
already been doing is intended as a starter for
a national or global comment network. And this is part of the
research part of this program. So we don’t know how well
it’s going to work yet. And we have the
fortunate, also, of having all engineers pretty much
were involved in our project. So we figure if these guys
can’t make the thing work, then we’ve got to go
back to the [INAUDIBLE].. BLONDIN: You’re kind of on the
tail end of the distribution group. It’s dropping rather rapidly. [LAUGHTER] BLONDIN: If you
don’t do it quick, there’ll be nothing left. [LAUGHTER] MINDELL: So Sandy will show
you some of the documents. and hopefully by later today
we’ll have the web working. We can do a demo of the
actual comment site. And as usual with
programmers, it’s a little more sophisticated
than it needs to be. And we’re spending a lot
of time beating on them, trying to tell them. If the engineer with
40 years of experience can’t make the thing
work, then what are the chances that a
material scientist is going make it work or a biologist? HALL: Or even an expert
on the Apollo computer. [LAUGHTER] MINDELL: Well, exactly. BLONDIN: Is this a
scientific endeavor or a historical endeavor? Are you people
historians or scientists? MINDELL: Well, that’s a good– I’m actually both a control
engineer and an historian. And so some of the
background for this project comes from I’m just publishing
a book on the history of control engineering from
1915 to 1948, which is all sort of before
classical control theory really kind of jelled and has a
lot of the early Draper stuff during the Second World
War, with the Mark 14 gun site and a lot of computing in a
whole bunch of different ways. And basically it’s turned out
to be mostly antiaircraft fire control and early radar
during the Second World War. And that’s been a seven-
or eight-year project that I’ve been working on. And coming to the close of that
project a couple of years ago, we sort of decided what’s next. And I’d always thought
that the right way to end that book would have
been with Apollo because it was a very logical, consistent
set of progressions there. Cline’s actually read the book. FRASIER: I was going to say,
I highly recommend the book when it comes out. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. They gave it to me
to read because I worked on antiaircraft
fire control systems that he’s had in the book. MINDELL: And if I had gone
all the way through Apollo, it would have been 1,000
pages instead of 500 pages, and nobody at all
would have read it. And so what we’re
doing here is sort of– we’re going to skip a little bit
in the middle, unfortunately. POUNDSTONE: Your
book is all analog. MINDELL: It’s actually about– it’s about the role
that control engineering played in the emergence
of digital computing and about how people
began to think about the relationship
between analog and digital, in the context of design
and control systems. FRASIER: A lot of history
about Doc and Webb, and the interaction
is Sperry, too, that I found very interesting. I read Webb’s book, the
biography of Webb just before. And how it all fit
together was quite– MINDELL: And a big part
of it is manufacturing. And one of my
arguments in the book is you can’t really
understand this history until you look at the
manufacturing issues that came up. Because during the
Second World War, a big reason that
people started moving toward electronic
analog computing had less to do with anything
like accuracy or speed. It had everything to do with
the problems of manufacturing mechanical computers and at
that time, the relative ease of having Western Electric build
the computers instead of people like Chrysler. So we’ve extended that basic
approach into this project. And we’re saying,
the Apollo computer is generally under appreciated
by historians of computing because all they tend to
care about is architecture. And they sort of work out of
this very abstracted framework. And we’re looking
at it saying, we think the Apollo
computer’s important for several different reasons. Obviously the integrated
circuits aspect of it is important, the general
manufacturing aspects, the human-machine interface
control systems, et cetera, et cetera. And so in some way, this
is the climactic chapter of what’s sort of a century-long
development of feedback control computing
human-machine interface and advanced manufacturing
techniques for controlling vehicles of various types. HALL: And have you seen the
latest Scientific American and their article
about the development, or the history of the
development of PCs? MINDELL: Uh-uh. HALL: It’s interesting,
except they’ve completely ignored just what you said
about the Apollo computer. I would think it
was one of the first that really had
human interaction with a visual computer, and
they don’t even mention it. But there’s other
interesting things in there. It goes way back to Whirlwind. MINDELL: I will check that out. It is– I mean, we’re trying
to change the categories so that people think
about history [INAUDIBLE].. POUNDSTONE: From a
manufacturing point of view, to talk about the
evolution of Apollo, you really have to
start with Polaris. SPEAKER: Exactly. Yeah, that’s why I wish– POUNDSTONE: It was
the genesis of– not only from a
manufacturing technology, but from the people. Those guys all
worked on Polaris. MINDELL: And one thing
we’re very interested in is the people side of it,
actually, because there, again, people are far too easy– POUNDSTONE: Stay out of that. MINDELL: Well, we went
into politics too. People tend to be far
too simple about looking at influences of technology. They say here’s a computer. What was the influence? And they go, what
other computers did people design
with that computer? As opposed to saying,
here’s a project. People built this project. What did those people
learn from the project? And how did that carry on
in the rest of their careers or in starting a company
or later projects they did? This is something
that actually– when I was at NASA last
week, they’re very interested about this project
because they’re always being pinged on to
document their influence. And they have this really
kind of dumb idea of spin-off. Like, the astronauts
drink Tang, and then everybody on the
ground drinks Tang. And there are some of
those, but they’re not nearly as significant
as the companies who got involved in Apollo. They did things in a new way. People learned things. They move on. And that’s a lot
harder to document. But it’s a lot more
meaningful because you got to follow the people around. And sometimes it’s
within the same company. Sometimes they move
on to other companies. And so they were very interested
in that part of this project. And as we go around, we’ll ask
you to introduce yourselves and say something about both how
you got to the Apollo project, but also where your
career went afterward. And we may, then,
interview individually in more detail about
this because we’re very interested in exactly
those kinds of developments. BATES: Well, they can’t fire
us or put us in jail now. [LAUGHTER] [INTERPOSING VOICES] [LAUGHTER] [INTERPOSING VOICES] MINDELL: So the site
is up on the web. How many of you have
seen the site already? So a good number of you. And we’ll send you the address. And it’s about to
be updated again. And what we’ll do from
today– as you can see, we’re recording it– we’re going to
make a transcript. And we edit the transcript to
make it a little more readable just because conversation
tends to be very verbose. And we compress it a bit. And then we’ll send it to
you by email or however where you like so that before
anything goes on the web that you’ve said,
you have a chance to review it, correct to it,
add to it, if you choose. And then we recompile
it and put it on the web in this
conversational format. So sometimes people
remember things that they didn’t remember
when they were here. And they go look something up. And so what you do
see on the web– everything that
you see on the web from our previous
conferences has been signed off on basically
by the participants. HALL: I didn’t get
a chance to do mine. And I need– MINDELL: Oh, you
haven’t done yours? Okay. HALL: I wasn’t [INAUDIBLE]. I wasn’t here– MINDELL: Oh, right. HALL: –when it was available. So I need to be able to do that. MINDELL: Okay. We should talk to [INAUDIBLE]
about that, who I thought I was going to be here today. So what I think we’d
like to do to start, and it may take up a
lot of the morning, is just have people go around
and tell your own version of the story, or at
least say who you are, what your background
was, how you got here. We’ll get into some of the
more detailed stuff later– where you worked, for how long. We have Raytheon people here
and [? IL ?] people here. And so at least everybody
here gets a sense of, if not a refresher for
who else is there. And then when we
complete that, we’ll get into some
specific questions. But usually that process
itself generates a lot of interesting conversation. And I’ll be taking pictures
just for conversation, the web-based part
of the conversations so get a sense of
what we’re doing. BATES: You got a time
limit for each interview? Because we could stand
here and sit forever. MINDELL: Right. For the first go around,
five minutes would be great. And then we can– that’ll certainly
generate questions for us. And I think we’ll start to hear
patterns of [INAUDIBLE] things. And that’ll enable us
to get around the room and get a sense for who’s
here and [INAUDIBLE].. We can start here or wherever. Maybe Clyde, do
you want to start? FRASIER: Sure. I’m Cline Frasier. I got to the Apollo program by
the Army and Sandia Corporation and then to NASA in Houston. Got involved with the guidance
system work in about 1963. And my role into that
was I was the instigator of the change of the spacecraft
guidance and control system configuration from
basically an analog system on both the command
service module to using digital autopilot, and incurring
Eldon’s wrath because we moved from two guidance
computers to one guidance computer in the process. And I talked for quite a
while in the last interview. So why don’t I just
let it go with that. Well, to add that,
then from there I went on and ended up
as the program manager for the guidance and control
system, primary guidance and control system. As a result, I had a lot to
do with MIT and with Raytheon and all the other people. TURNER: I’m Bard Turner. And I kind of go way
back to the Polaris days. I worked for Raytheon
Chapel Street in Newton, who were, at that time,
making tubes, welding. And this was back
when the lab had started repackaging the Polaris
guidance computer, which was all discrete, into what
was called cord wood modules and welding rather
than soldering them. And so that was
sort of my entry. I was sent by
Raytheon as a resident and working for Ed Duggan
doing design work on this thing because I had applied for it. [INTERPOSING VOICES] TURNER: Polaris, yeah. In fact, I have– this really,
as Jack said, goes back. This is really the start of
the basic physical organization of the Apollo. In other words, the concepts
that we learned on Polaris really was the one that
tracked the key points up through Apollo. So when that Polaris program
was done, I did leave Raytheon and went to work for
the lab directly, just at the start of
the Apollo program. And was pretty close to
the design of the logic section of the Apollo computer. From the first version,
I have two modules here, which was the Block one
Which still retained a welded interconnect,
but it had the micrologic
integrated circuit NOR gates back in the cans,
to the final version, which was interconnected with the
multi-layer boards, which were hard to make, and made by
one place, mainly, in Virginia. And significant also,
backline interconnected with an automatic
wiring machine made by Gardner Denver in
Michigan, and clearly was involved with the transition
over the Raytheon, to the manufacturer. So I have been
around this program all the way back to before
Apollo, which was Polaris. So that’s where I am. BATES: Yes, my
name is Dave Bates. I go before Polaris. When I got drafted in the
Army and sent to Huntsville, Alabama, they took
it any guy that was a mechanical engineer that
came from Sperry Gyroscope must know all about
gyroscopes, which show was kind of
difficult, because I was a structural engineer. But anyway, I was assigned
to the guidance and control laboratory under Dr.
Heusermann, and I was in charge of the guidance
and control laboratory from a military standpoint. MINDELL: Could you just
back up a little bit? BATES: Sure. MINDELL: When were you
at Sperry, and where, and what’d you work on? BATES: I was at Sperry
from about ’53 to ’55. Got drafted in the Army
and sent to Huntsville, and I was lieutenant
the Army in charge of the guidance and control
laboratory, as I said. We were working on the
Redstone, Jupiter, Pershing. And as you probably
well know, Von Braun was very much interested
in space exploration, so we were building the explorer
satellite in the back room. So I worked on
that and a program for Hardtack, which was an
atomic firing of a Redstone missile. They would always revert back
to the V-2 type of hardware, so it was kind of difficult to
work as to what was going on. So the old Redstone
computers were analog, and they used ball
and disk integrators, which held me from the
standpoint of being on the mechanical side. MINDELL: Ford Instrument
Company make those? BATES: Pardon? MINDELL: Was it
Ford who made it? BATES: Ford Instrument Company
made the first ones, yes. In Long Island City. So then what happened, was
the Navy got interested in the Polaris program,
and they decided that they were going
to use the Jupiter A– we had the Jupiter A, B, and C. The Jupiter B was
the first forerunner of Polaris, the Mariner
ships, and they were first talking about taking
a Jupiter missile and putting it aboard a ship. Aboard a submarine, which
is kind of ridiculous, because they used liquid
oxygen, liquid hydrogen, and air-bearing gyros, which
made it rather difficult. My job through this
whole thing was not only from the mechanical
engineering standpoint, but when the head of the project
office had a heart attack, I went over and took over the
project office for Von Braun, and for the people there. So I was assigned the job
of working with the Navy to try to determine
how the Jupiter B would be utilized in the
next generation of Polaris. And I worked with
all the people that came down from the
Instrumentation Laboratory, like Davey Hoag and Ralph
Ragan, and the rest of them. And the people in the
Navy, like Sam Porter. So what happened was that
the Navy decided that, since the Army was having
a problem with the Air Force on a Jupiter versus the
Thor, that they would pull out. And so they pulled out of
the Army in Huntsville, but we kept an awful
lot of the people down there in Huntsville
to work on the program. One of them, Jim Matthews,
who finally came with me to Raytheon, worked on
the early guidance scheme from the standpoint
of the trajectory, and what was going to be done. And actually, he was the guy
that worked with Dahlgren and determined those equations. When I got to my end
of time at the Army, they wanted to stay there,
but my home was in Boston. So I took a job at GE in
Pittsfield, who had the Polaris program, and I was program
manager for the Polaris guidance system. At that time we had the Mark 1
system, working with the Draper Laboratory, and that was an
instrumentation laboratory during that time. My main responsibility
was the coordination of all the components from
the standpoint of the first EA there was worked
on with the Mark 1, and then all of the IMU, which
we built at GE in Pittsfield. The next thing was, when Polaris
Mark 2 came, we kept on going. The situation became,
it didn’t look like Polaris was going to
go much further than that. The guy that hired me
for GE in Pittsfield knew I came from Huntsville. He came down and
worked for Raytheon. The problem that Raytheon
had at that time, and also the Instrumentation Laboratory,
was a working relationship between Nasa Huntsville
and NASA Houston. I, having been a NASA
Huntsville for a long time, and being in charge of
the guidance and control laboratory, knew the
people down in Huntsville. So I was hired in my
first stint in marketing and advanced program
development to work at Raytheon, to
look at how Raytheon could work with both
Houston and with Huntsville. So it got to be more a working
relationship and an interface to try and do that. So I work well with customers,
and with the people who are building the hardware and
designing the hardware, which included the
Instrumentation Laboratory and the people in Waltham,
and the rest of it. I went through a number
of jobs in that area, but finally ended up
working for Jack Poundstone in the area of advanced
program development. I retired about 10
years ago, and now I’m a consultant to a
number of companies. That’s about it. That’s all. And I did it in less
than five minutes. POUNDSTONE: [INAUDIBLE] MINDELL: Yeah, those comments. The Sperry gyroscope is
of great interest to me, because a lot of
the first book is about the Sperry gyroscope and
Ford, and the relationship– BATES: I’ll bring in one
of his first auto-pilots. I bought it as
junk at $5 a pound. MINDELL: I bought
a Mark 14 gunsight. A brand new for $100 on eBay. It’s in my office
downstairs, actually. BATES: That’s how I learned
about gyros, because you could blow into the end of
this thing, and you could see the way that
the gyro was precessing when you moved the thing. POUNDSTONE: Has
anyone looked on eBay to see if there’s an
Apollo computer there? MINDELL: I have
actually looked there. There’s a lot of little junk. Some of the really
big auction houses, like Christie’s, have
auctioned hardware, but it’s all a glove here,
and a mission card there. BATES: As a side thing,
they had come down to Huntsville at one time, to
the museum that’s down there, and go up into the third floor
and look at all the hardware. And if you’ve never seen a lot
of junk, there’s a lot of junk up there. And you’d go around and
you’d point at each one, and what it was. The AB-5s, the old gyros,
the all accelerometers, the old lateral and
range computers. What we used– LEV-3 was the
old platform for the Germans on the V-2. MINDELL: This is on display,
or in their back room? BATES: In their back room,
but there are some on display, now that they’ve figured
out what they are. MINDELL: I’ve been there,
but not for a long time. BATES: There is a
blockhouse that you can go to with the Cape,
which you can get into, which has got an old
LED-3 system in it, plus a whole bunch of hardware. And they use it for VIPs. I brought, who was it,
Dennis in there, one time. So unless my memory
goes bad, you can have me for
historical stuff. MINDELL: I’d love to. POUNDSTONE: All right, my
name is Jack Poundstone. I got on the Apollo program
by another devious route. I was a graduate mining engineer
from West Virginia University. And after spending about
a year, year and a half as a sales engineer
crawling around in the coal mines of
Kentucky and West Virginia, I decided that
wasn’t the thing do. I went in the Army, got drafted,
or volunteered for the draft. And through a bunch of
strange circumstances, I ended up in Huntsville at
the missile guidance school down there. I ended up being an
instructor teaching guidance on the Corporal
missile, and also on the Nike– I guess it was
Nike Ajax, I think. Corporal had an analog
computers doing everything, so I sort of cut my teeth
on analog computers, in those days. When I got out of
the Army I went to work for the
Westinghouse in Baltimore, and I worked on
the Bomarc project, which was a very early missile
program for this country. And the Bomarc was one of the
first digital computers being used. You may recall that IBM had
a big computer in Kingston, New York, I guess it was,
SAGE, and they were somehow processing all the
radar data that came out of Eglund Air Force Base. But my job was
developing simulators, because the IBM computer was
so far behind in schedule, there was no way you’d
eve be able to test this missile without something
to simulate those computers. So I got a touch of working
in physical computers there. And subsequently,
after four years there, and getting
a high school degree in electrical
engineering, I went on to a small
company in Huntsville for about six months. And when NASA was formed
and Huntsville almost died, it seemed like it
was time to leave. And I ended up working with
Raytheon up in New England. And I got there probably
about a month or two after they had gotten their
first Polaris contract. So I was probably the only
guy in the Raytheon company, at that time, who’d ever heard
of the word digital computer. It was a very analog
kind of company. So I was sort of in the right
place at the right time. Since Raytheon got the contract
to be an industrial support contractor to MIT
instrumentation lab, I ended up working with
Eldon Hall starting almost from the day I got there. And I was a project
engineer Raytheon, providing support to
the instrumentation lab and the development of Polaris. And ultimately, we produced the
machine in our manufacturing plant, and, as several
people have said, the evolution of Apollo
really started from Polaris. So when Apollo came along,
after Doc Draper had done such a great
job of getting Draper the responsibility
for the guidance system on a sole source
basis, without a competition, they decided they needed some
industrial support contractors. There were several aspects
of the program, the IMU, the computer, some of
the analog electronics, quite a few things. So we ended up bidding on
it, and thanks to a gentleman across the table,
Mr. Hall, Raytheon was able to win that
contract, and I then became the Raytheon technical
director for our efforts to support Draper and Apollo. And I spent four years on
that program doing everything that had to be done
to make sure that all of the resources at Raytheon
were applied to the program as effectively as they could be. I spent four years that– I don’t even remember my kids. We worked so hard. And after that, I became
so close to Draper Lab, that I became– well, they said I didn’t
have the right attitude, or something like that. Because NASA had decided
to organize the program. After we’d been
gone for four years, it was time to get organized. So they took Raytheon
and Kollsman, who were contractors
for the optics, and said they had to be
subcontractors to AC Spark Plug. And that was done by decree. So we did that. The contractual
arrangements changed, but Eldon and I kept
doing the same thing we’d been doing for years, which
was to try to get the job done, and do it in an
efficient manner. And after a few
months, AC Spark Plug decided that I was much
too close to Draper Labs, so they fired me, or they told
me to get off the program. Now that was probably
the luckiest thing that ever happened to
me, because I got off just as all the fun
was over, and was able to get onto
the Poseiden program and the rest of the Navy
programs, when a lot of people here got stuck in a program
that was sort of going downhill. But anyway, at the
time, I thought it was earth-shattering. But certainly, Apollo was
a wonderful experience. I have never seen such a group
of dedicated, hardworking people that work
between the contractors and the instrumentation
lab, at that time. I don’t know if NASA ever
appreciated how hard everybody worked, but they certainly did. And successes come from it. I’ve got a lot of pictures
here, we can show maybe at a later time, but
maybe that’s good enough for the biographical sketch. Mr. AC Spark Plug is now up. SPEAKER: We’d even forgotten
he worked for them. BLONDIN: My name is Ed Blondin. I got involved with
Apollo in the early ’60s. I was superintendent
of manufacturing at AC Spark Plug
in Milwaukee, which was the defense electronics
division of General Motors. It was odd, because we’d
go down to Cape Canaveral, they’d say, where are you from? We’d say, AC Spark
Plug, and they’d say, what are you contributing? Spark plugs. Big ones. I was working on all
the manufacturing tests for the Titan program,
and the Apollo program at AC Electronics,
where we built the IMU and we integrated
the IMU with the new with the optics and the
computer, was behind schedule. And behind schedule
mostly because we were not producing welded, encapsulated
modules fast enough. So I got transferred over
to that, and about a year after that we were
back on schedule, and we had tested our
first guidance system. We also made the ground
control equipment. Tested that, and tested our
first production system, and we were shut down because
we didn’t have computers. So Hugh Brady was our program
manager at AC Electronics, we had changed the name by then. Later on we changed it
again, to Delco Electronics. I wasn’t there at that time. Hugh would ask me
to come here to be in residence at
the manufacturing arm of Raytheon in Waltham. I was delighted to do that,
because I had grown up in the area, I went
to Boston College. And I came out here and it was
a real culture shock for me. I was used to the
General Motors production ethic, which was things
moved from manufacturing. And the worst curse that
could happen anywhere was shut a line down. And I got out here,
and I found out that this was like getting
something through Congress. We had NASA, and we had
MIT, and we had Raytheon, and we had my bosses
back in Milwaukee. But I got to know some
people in a hurry, and I found that was the key. Eldon Hall was one of
them, and he goes down in my book as one of the
finest gentlemen I’ve met. Cline Frasier was outstanding. If you had to buck
something to Cline Frasier, he would make a decision. That was not something
that was easily done. There were an
awful lot of people who seemed to feel
that it was their job to say what all the
reasons were why you shouldn’t do so something. Lots of them. But finally, you had to dig
out what your options were and you had to move. And Cline Frasier was excellent,
and my boss, Hugh Brady, was good. And at the time I got involved
with Apollo and Raytheon, Jack Poundstone had just
got transferred off, and so I didn’t get a
chance to meet him much. At that time our program manager
was a guy named Bill Kurtz, I don’t know whatever
happened to him. BATES: He’s down in Arizona. I saw him, he moved down
there from Colorado. BLONDIN: He’d come out of
the Navy, was a Navy captain, and he worked for another
guy named Gus Guidi. Gus was the second person on
whom AC Electronics pulled the trigger. POUNDSTONE: I was the first. Gus told me to leave,
then they told him. BLONDIN: Apparently we had
a clause in our contract that said that we had approval
of Raytheon program managers. And Gus was one
of those guys that just loved stirring up trouble. He was a brilliant
guy, and everything was in a constant
state of argument. So it wasn’t long before AC
asked Raytheon to remove him, and he got out of there. And they put another guy
in as head program manager, Ron Greenslade,
another real gentleman. From this point on, I’m
dealing with Ron Greenslade, Hugh Brady, Cline
Frasier, Eldon Hall. It didn’t matter how
many different hats they were wearing, things moved. I also found out
how critical it was that the hands-on manufacturing
people were properly used. It wasn’t long
after I got here– I got here ’66, early ’66– when Raytheon went on strike. And they had that
strike for years, and it was a total shock. And I remember driving into
the plant with picket signs, but we had a sign in our
window that said Apollo. And the lines would part,
people said, oh, the Feds, and let us in. They tried building the
Apollo components at Waltham with supervisors, industrial
engineers, foremen, people that allegedly
had experience on it, especially on these
memories, these ropes. Scrap, just everything
they made was scrap. I also found out that
welding these modules, which, on the
surface, seemed easy– you took the jig, put it
between two electrodes, came down with a foot
pedal, and the machine was programmed to apply the
right amount of pressure and the right amount of
current, and you got a weld. More scrap. There was a technique,
how you positioned it, and when your hand shook,
and these female operators were good at, and those that
stood around telling them what to do were terrible at it. I remember, we had to suddenly
rebuild all these memories. There was apparently
a vibration problem. I didn’t know what
it was, but I knew that MIT was writing
a new program, and we had to get them
out within three weeks, I think it was. We had to get them to
NASA in three weeks, or we were going
to scrub a flight. And then, you’d think
this is automated. We had x-y tables that
positioned these cores exactly between a couple of cores where
you passed a needle through. It was like a spinning
wheel with a wire on it. You’d think you could just– but you couldn’t, you
needed those girls– little old ladies–
who wound those ropes. Anyway, you get
everybody out of the way. No cheerleaders, nothing,
put a rope around the area, told them what we needed to
do, and we shipped the ropes on time, and the
schedule went forward. That’s the first time
I felt like I was back at General Motors
with a production– we’re going to get this
done, get out of the way. BATES: Those little
old ladies mostly came from the Waltham
Watch company. MINDELL: They did. I think Waltham
had closed by then. BATES: That’s right. MINDELL: When did they
close, do you remember? We can find that out. BATES: I don’t know, but they
were the only ones I ever saw with that much patience. BRISS: And they came out
of the tool division, mostly, the ones
that worked with me. BATES: Right, they came from
Waltham to the tool division, and then from the
tool division– BLONDIN: Apollo soon became a– HALL: There was a little bit
of tender loving care in that, too– BATES: There was. HALL: –those little
old ladies had. They were essential. BLONDIN: Yeah, it was. Apollo then became a
relatively small part of what was going on in Waltham. Waltham grew, ultimately,
to over half a million square feet. We ended up with
3,700 people, and I ended up in a vice-president of
Raytheon, and retired in 1989. Maybe it would’ve been better
if I had retired in 1950. I wouldn’t have had a bypass
in 1990, [? February. ?] BLAIR-SMITH: So my name
is Hugh Blair-Smith. I am the most software-flavored
person here, I believe. So my path to Apollo
begins at Harvard, where, in my senior
year, suddenly there was a computer course
available to undergraduates, and that was because the
Univac 1 had become just obsolete enough that Univac was
happy to give one to Harvard. So suddenly, undergraduates
could have programming courses. So I fell under the influence
of Al Hopkins, and Ray Alonso, and Jim Lincoln, and Scotty,
and a whole lot of other people. But just to pick
the ones up, that’s, I think, all the
migrants we had. Wasn’t it, Eldon? Harvard to MIT? HALL: That’s all I can remember. Well, all the important
ones, I’ll say. You were in that group. BLAIR-SMITH: Only I didn’t
come with the group, nor did they recruit me. My path to MIT
was that, as I was doing one full-time software
job at Harvard after graduation, I got involved
moonlighting, and the fellow I was moonlighting with
was named Dan Goldenberg. And he ran the computing group
at the instrumentation lab. So he recruited me,
because he needed somebody who would be able to do
an assembler program, or what we now call a
cross-assembler program, for an unknown
number of machines with unknown characteristics. Sounds simple
enough, so why not? But I was, without realizing,
prepared quite well for that, because what I did
in my spare time when I was at college
and my postgraduate year, I would go around
to all the showrooms that the various
computer companies had, and I would beg
programming manuals, and they’d all give me one. So I believed, at one time,
back maybe up to 1958 sometime, that I had some knowledge of how
to program every computer that was abroad in the world. MINDELL: Last year that
was possible, probably. BLAIR-SMITH:
Probably it was, yes. So I came into the
computing group, and I was told, when I
arrived in September, that it was necessary
for this cross-assembler to be ready by Christmas,
because the Christmas computer would be already
up and running at that time. So I said, well, all right,
if it’s a Christmas computer, we need a short, snappy
name for the system. I’ll call it the Yul system. Y-U-L, nothing to do with
the Montreal airport code. But that was what
it was about, it was the assembler for
the Christmas computer. Well, needless to say, Christmas
was about three months late, as I recall. We actually got all this
stuff going in March, but by that time, the Yul
system, running on the 650, cranking out cards, was
indeed able to assemble programs for what was not
yet an Apollo machine. This was still 1960, this
was what we called the Mod 1. And the Mod 1 had a
two-bit op-code field, which meant it had first
three, and then later four, instructions. So I got involved,
among other things, with writing software for that. I remember a very
happy afternoon writing a sub-routine
with a great loop in it to perform addition. You didn’t just write down add
instruction on that machine. So that was good fun. Anyhow, once I saw the way the
instructions were mechanized, which, of course, were very
reminiscent of the Harvard Mark 4, because of the people
who were mechanizing them, I got involved in the
instruction set design. And so there was going to
be a machine called Mod 2, but it kind of
collapsed along the way. So there was going to be
a machine called Mod 3, and it has three bits in the
instruction code field, all of eight instructions. What a great field to work in. And so I got involved
with Al Hopkins and with Ray Alonso in designing
the instruction set for that, and we actually published
that, first in IEEE, and then in Gordon Bell’s book
on computer structures, I’m sure that’s
well known to you. And we put in there
a case study of how to design an instruction
set under these very tight constraints. Anyhow, Al Hopkins
looked at that and said, boy, that’s
complicated, it’s got multiply instructions
and all that stuff, we’ll call that Mod 3C. And he had a rival design
called Mod 3S, for simple. And anyhow, those were just, I
don’t know what you call them, pilot models of one
sort or another. But the Mod 3C was, in fact,
chosen as the original Apollo guidance computer. All 4,096 words of it. Each word 15 bits, plus parity,
all the stuff you now know. HALL: Pardon me a minute. Wasn’t that called Mod 1B? BLAIR-SMITH: There was a 1B, but
that was those 2-bit op-code. There was Mod 1A and Mod 1B. HALL: Well, there’s a
report that’s about Mod 1B, and that sounds like it’s what
you’re describing as Mod 3. BLAIR-SMITH: Well, there may
have been a publication on 1B that I don’t remember, but
the one I have the author credit for was about 3C. Anyway, so I guess the
closest I got to hardware is that I was encouraged
to keep the logic simple, to learn how to draw three
input NOR gate diagrams. So I drew the diagrams,
whether anything good ever came of that, I’m not at
all certain, but it was fun. And so I got kind of
a feel for the way these things were put together. Anyway, so, of
course, the Yul system had to, as it was
originally designed to do, flex so as to accommodate
somewhat different designs of machines, and it
did that all right. At some level, I think
it wasn’t until we got into what was originally called
AGC-4 that is, as if it was Mod 4, that we began to talk about
an interpretive language. So the assembler had to handle
both the interpretive code and the regular
code, and to make sure there weren’t any improper
transitions between one and the other. But anyhow, the NGC-4
had 11 instructions in its 3-bit instruction
code, and that’s because I lifted a great
stunt from the Bendix G-20, I believe it was called. And anybody who can remember
Bendix, even as a company, never mind a computer
maker, is doing well. But the key
instruction there that made a lot of additional
instructions possible was called index, which would
pick up a full-sized data word, ad it to the
next instruction line, and simply execute the
result as an instruction. And because it was possible
for this addition to overflow, we got more op-codes. So that that’s how we
kind of cheated, on that. But ultimately, the instruction
sets of these machines were decided basically
around a table of four of us. Al Hopkins kind of
being the system man, Ray Alonso being
the, as I recall, the input-output specialist,
Herb Thaler of Raytheon– and you remember him, I’m sure– for circuitry, and I was
there representing software. So the outlines,
and to some extent, the details of the
instruction sets, got cut decided in that way. And I do remember in
AGC-4 just barely managing to sneak in a
divide instruction. Everybody said, oh no, that’s
too hard, how can you do that? I said, well, here’s how. And so we snuck it in there. And then, of course,
later on with Block 2, we had to go through a
lot more instructions. So we managed to buy
a number of stunts, that maybe I don’t have
time to go into here, to make the total
number 34, plus about 50 or 60 op-codes in the
interpretive set, which was a curious Polish
prefix notation. We owed a lot to
Lukasiewicz for that. So that was most of the
developmental things that I got involved in. I did get into a little
bit of system programming. I wrote something
called routine 29, which was supposed to
wave the rendezvous radar dish around so that it could
find the command module– that is, the dish on the LEM. And I got it so it
worked fast enough, although only with
perhaps 99% reliability, and I have a feeling
somebody trashed it as being a little weird. But in the time budget
allotted to this thing, there was no way to
do any more than that. So finally, in the
Apollo 13 business, I was among those
who valiantly tried to come up with software fixes. The particular
problem was, okay, the mated spacecraft are
approaching the Earth, they’re got to be separated. Can we can we throw
a little program up into the erasable memory to fire
the maneuvering jets, the RCS jets of the LEM, to
make it blast away? So I hastily threw
something together. But then it occurred
to somebody that we’ve got air pressure in the tunnel
between the two spacecraft, and that will do very
nicely to blast them apart, and that’s the way it was done. So that didn’t come to anything. After that, I worked on
various other projects. There was a machine we called
the cubic inch computer, and Dave, you’ll remember that,
I’m sure, which, of course, was really an imperial inch. I believe it was an inch
and a quarter on each side by the time it was done. But that was fun. It had a square root
instruction, as well as the divide instruction,
among other virtues. But it came to
nothing, in the end. Then I got involved in the
space shuttle business, and then just a little bit of
the control system mathematics for
the space station. Which, considering
how many years that was before there
was a space station, was kind of curious to remember. And then, at the end
of 1981, I decided that the government in general,
and NASA in particular, had lost their interest in
advancing the art of computing. So I bugged out
and I went and got involved in some crazy
start-ups in the PC field. And I’ve been involved
in that ever since, although I’m now in a
good company, rather than a start-up. HALL: I think, going
back to your Mod 3, in my terminology,
that’s AGC-3, I think. BLAIR-SMITH: Yes, we
did call it that, right. As soon as it became an
AGC we changed its name. HALL: That 1B was a
very early version, so that was my misunderstanding. BLAIR-SMITH: 1B, as I recall,
controlled a little stepper motor, to make a little wheel
adopt various angular states. BRISS: Very impressive
group, here. I’m the manufacturing grunt. In the history of flight, I
spent time my time in the Navy, during World War 2, in the
Air Force as an air crewman and as a mechanic. Coming out of there, I decided
to go to school off and on, like many of who knew
what we wanted to do. But bottom line, I got a
job with a company called American Machine and Foundry. And we got involved in– I did most of it,
the design work, a lot of the building work,
on the flight simulator that turned out to be the
flight simulator for the B52. MINDELL: What was the company? BRISS: American
Machine and Foundry. I think it’s now
a Boeing company. BATES: Yes. HALL: Were you here in Boston? BRISS: Yeah, right on Comm Ave.
Right above the Clark and White building. HALL: I worked for
them until 1952. I think worked on
their radar simulator. BRISS: Okay, I wasn’t on that. I was on the flight simulator. HALL: From ’48 to ’52. BRISS: I was there
probably around ’50 to ’54, and bummed around a
little bit, again, looking for things to do. Continued schooling
a little bit. And from America Machine and
Foundry the next job, real job, was Raytheon. A couple of people left
American Machine and Foundry, and suggested I
interview in Sudbury. I had a little experience
in magnesium machining and welding, and also in
new metal and new beryllium, and stuff like that, which
I never saw at Raytheon, by the way, either one of them. And I got hired by using some
buzz words that evidently impressed by the
interviewer, as most of you know, certain things
happen during an interview. And one of them was
potting those two metals. Potting, it turns out,
they meant encapsulation. Well, the encapsulation
they did on this program was electric frying
pan and a little mold. And put the stuff in the frying
pan, heated it up, and sealed it. Bottom line, after a few
months of building breadboards there, that was in
1963, I believe. Multi-layer boards were not in
the cards at that time for us. We built prototypes, still
using diodes and resistors, phased into what we called a TL
47 can that came out of Draper. Worked a little
bit with Fairchild, going back and forth
across the country. Got involved in the
famous purple plague. I still don’t know
what the hell it is. BATES: Purple plague,
I forgot about that. BRISS: My major assignment
was the Tray A, which looked pretty simple, but
now I understand why I used to curse these developers. Listening to you guys, how you
got involved in this thing. How do you think this stuff up? My job, as a
manufacturing engineer, was to try to put it
together and make it work. And by the way, I was one
of those engineers who were helping these old ladies,
and my acceptance rate was 23%. Maybe that’s why I left– [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: We had big trash cans. BRISS: Those [INAUDIBLE]
were tough to weld. But getting back to
before get there, putting the Tray A
together with the diodes– and these were
miniatures, by the way. Putting them together
was a lot of fun. Again, you use a frying
pan, and eventually an oven, and we didn’t know what
temperatures to use. It would screw up the resistors,
it would screw up the diodes, or the capacitors, whatever. Anything that could get
screwed up, we screwed up. But sooner or later
we got the hang of it, and we understood how
serious this thing was, and how complicated it was. And what it was going
to do was just amazing, absolutely amazing. And I think that’s what
motivated a lot of people working a lot of hours. And I know the ladies
worked hard, but even before the ladies. Grunt engineers,
junior engineers, we spent a lot of
hours in there. To make a long
story short, we got the TL 47 cans and the purple
plague straightened out, and we started to build– MINDELL: What was
the purple plague? Purple plague was
something that happened– HALL: Gold aluminum. BRISS: What was it? HALL: Gold aluminum. BRISS: Yeah. But what really happened? I’m a mechanical guy, I
don’t know anything about it. HALL: It pans into a different
alloy, which gets very brittle, and then cracked. BRISS: That was one
of our major problems. BATES: So we called the
other one purple plague? HALL: [INAUDIBLE],, this
[INAUDIBLE] effect, or something. Anyway, it got very
brittle and would crack– BRISS: Right, it didn’t
last long when you put it on the shake table, even
when it was encapsulated. At any rate, we got
rid of the diodes, and we started to use
these TL 47 cans– I think that was
what they call them. What was that? HALL: That’s TL 47. BRISS: And things
went pretty well, until we engineers and
the supervisors started to weld them, and we
learned a lot that way. We tried soldering
them, gold to gold. Silver soldering, in
a very miniature way, with shaky hands. Sooner or later, we got this
Tray A portion of it, which was just my job, my particular
project was all of these cans. And the other guys had Tray
Bs, but were still using the diodes other type of
electronic components. Let’s see. We reduced the size,
I think, at that time. ’63, ’64. I’m not going to say 50%, but
a lot smaller than what it was. I believe that the
modules in the diodes were about a foot long, maybe
10 and 1/2 inches to a foot, and about an inch and 1/4 wide. You got one? BATES: Just so happens. BRISS: Just so happens. You got it. There she is right there. TURNER: Both versions. BRISS: They’re beautiful. They are beautiful. I haven’t seen one since– [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: We left the cans and
went to flat packs, eventually. BRISS: Okay, these
components are– there they are,
they’re right there. What’s this, one generation
and then the other? TURNER: Yeah, the
bottom one is a Block 1. BRISS: That’s the one I’m
[? working ?] [? on. ?] HALL: The bottom on has a TL 47. BRISS: It looks like one
of my welds in there, too. SPEAKER: That’s why
he’s got the module. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: Is that what
we call a mule? HALL: No, that’s a mule. BATES: Oh, those are mules. Okay. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BRISS: At any rate,
somehow we got it out of Sudbury,
which means that we were on the road to accepting
the guidance computer as it was. And at the same time,
I worked on the LEM– that was a Grumman
associate project. But we took the Apollo
project over to the G Building in Waltham, and my job was to
help set up manufacturing lines and processors here. And I’ve got pictures of
a bunch of ladies in there on the assembly floor,
that most of those people made me look good. Made me look real good. And they were all
hardworking people, too. I did enough the
damage on that program that they were going to
assign me to the Poseidon, as you know, with Raytheon. The particular
group I was in, we were hired with different
government numbers, contracts, I guess, programs. And my part of that
program was running out, and I was going to be
assigned to Poseidon. But around that time, in
1966, the Vietnam War was on, and I became a
peacenik, and I got out and I get out of the
industrial military complex and went to work for Polaroid. And I retired from Polaroid
about 10 years ago. And that’s it. Compared to this
group, [INAUDIBLE],, it’s an experience. HALL: I’ve got par of mine
written up here, because I want to hold to the script. I started from
Harvard, too, but when I was in the Harvard
physics department, the word digital
computer never came up. I didn’t know what a decimal
and binary system was, I didn’t know what
hexadecimal– none of that stuff was ever mentioned at Harvard,
in the physics department. So when I got to
Draper Lab in 1952, I was working for
Hal Laning, and he was over his head
programming types of things with Whirlwind computers. So I began to be interested
in a fairly early. And by the middle ’50s, when the
lab got involved with Polaris, I had run some
experiments about how to make certain types
of logic models. So I got grabbed from
the pile of people, and sort of headed up the
Polaris computer development. And since that went
very successful, I sort of inherited the Apollo
responsibility, when that came. When NASA awarded the
instrumentation lab contract for the Apollo
guidance system, they planned to follow in the
footsteps of the Polaris program, which they did. And they planned to set up a
group of support contractors to manufacture the
system, and we would have the design responsibility. And as I mentioned, I
inherited the responsibility from managing and the
guidance computer, since I had spent several
years on the Polaris program, and essentially knew the type
of job that we had on Apollo. So to follow this
plan we put together, after we received
the whole project, we put together a documentation
to support a bidders conference in early 1962. Alonso and Hanley
here, and I were the nucleus of the
evaluation team for the technical proposal. Fortunately, for me at
least, with Jack Poundstone’s understanding and
experience with MIT on the Polaris program,
Raytheon put together a winning proposal. We had developed, by
that point, a very good working relationship with them. And with Jack’s influence,
I maintained that throughout the Apollo program,
even though he evaporated. I think his heritage stayed
with us, fortunately. BLONDIN: He makes
a pretty big ghost. HALL: Yeah, right so you
felt his influence, too. Well it’s hard to miss him,
floating around [INAUDIBLE].. BATES: He has a
certain presence. HALL: Also, somewhat related to
the overall development plan, there were turf
battles, two of them, actually, that had
surfaced within the lab. One dealt with
the responsibility for test equipment,
and the second with the responsibility
for the guidance system displays and controls. In both cases logic prevailed,
and the computer portion of those were split off, and
became the responsibility of the computer design team. I turned on the computer
test equipment design over to Raytheon,
knowing that they would follow the earlier
work and requirements of the computer design team. Then the computer part of the
systems’ displays and controls would be more complicated. Astronauts and
human factors types within the lab and the
spacecraft contractors would provide requirements,
such as, color of the lights, the size of the light,
the shape of the numerics, and the placement of
the action of the keys, and all that kind of
foolishness that human factors has to work out. Again, Raytheon took a
very responsible role in the mechanical design
in what eventually became known as the DSKY. This arrangement set the
baseline of the design and production responsibility,
and I was fairly comfortable with the arrangement. And a lot of this was
occurring in 1962, which was a very busy year. In addition to the
bidders conference, I got my friend
synthesizing here, Dave, going on
integrated circuits, because I felt the core
transistor type of logic that Ray Alonso and Al
Hopkins were pursuing, the things that
[INAUDIBLE] have mentioned, was not the way to go. So I challenged Dave
to try to get the ICs. This was early 62, and I
placed a bet with him, yeah. And then, in addition, in
1962, many other things were involved. Duggan had to work out the
size and shape of things going in the spacecraft,
there wasn’t much room with all this garbage. So all of that kept
things pretty busy in ’62. And then, near the end,
I had the responsibility of facing Charles
Frick, and I’m trying to convince him to
change this contract to use integrated circuits,
because NASA had just finished negotiating the
contract with Raytheon, and, in fact, getting
the full go-ahead to go into integrated circuits. And he was all upset, too. So I had to face Charles
Frick, and apparently was able to convince him
that this was the way to go, with integrated circuits. And we got the approval
in December of ’62, to go with integrated circuits. And even though I
was comfortable, various people within
NASA had some concerns. And they brought
Bellcomm on board to search out
potential problems. Bellcomm raised several
issues, but most important were the questionable
reliability of ICs and the capability
of the MIT design team to complete the
design on schedule. This led to computer
design studies for a backup development. The backup design
faded away when it became apparent to the
MIT design was progressing, so I won’t go into the
details of that backup. But it got kind of messy at
times, from my point of view. Then another NASA concern
was a contractual arrangement with Raytheon as a
subcontractor to MIT, and Jack mentioned this. The introduction of the ICs
into the computer design and adding the test equipment
to the Raytheon contract, and a multiplicity of
other design changes, was resulting in
contractual problems. And as Jack mentioned,
he was a little too soft in the way he handled this,
from the production en of the contract. So NASA was pressuring
MIT’s capability to control Raytheon’s
contract, so they changed their arrangement and
put anything on as a sub to AC Spark Plug, who would be
the prime reporting to NASA. This change in contractual
responsibilities worked okay, even though Draper
Lab was extremely nervous for a long time
about that change. We felt we should have a more
responsible role in production. Then in 1963, there was major
progress in various areas. One was getting the
AGC-4 up and running, that was the first
real Apollo computer using integrated circuits. Dave had built one previously,
and that was sort of transferred into the AGC-4. Also, Raytheon built
their first version, which was called a AGB-4B,
which was essentially a copy with integrated circuits. And THEN by the end of ’63,
they were cranking out modules for AGC-5, which was the
things that you talked about with the TL-47 cans,
and so forth, and would be the first flight
computer, which was up and running in ’64. Then that was
followed with a set of what was called
implementation meetings, which Cline was very
familiar with, which put the autopilot
in the computer, and lots of other
responsibilities from the computer, which sort of
forced us to go into the Block 2 design. POUNDSTONE: Thank goodness. HALL: And serious
expansion and logic required, which went to the flat
packs, and multi-layer boards, and so forth. And I don’t want to say much
about my future after Apollo, because it sort
of went downhill, and I wasn’t too happy with it. BATES: You put
water on the moon? HALL: I put water on the moon. BATES: No, remember? We were looking for
water on the moon. HALL: You were, but
I wasn’t doing that. BATES: You were part
of the evaluation team. POUNDSTONE: If you would
have gotten fired like me, you’d have been
a lot better off. HALL: I would have been much
better off, that’s right. But I had fun, I wouldn’t
want all those manager responsibilities. HANLEY: We were still
working together, though. HALL: Yes, we were
still working together, but you were giving
me trouble, too. That’s my history. I retired in 1988. HANLEY: Okay, next. My name is David Hanley. I guess you want a little bit of
some of the old history of what we were doing. I got a degree in
physics in ’52, and went to work at
Sylvania on semiconductors. MINDELL: Where’s
your degree from? HANLEY: What’s that? MINDELL: Where from,
the degree in physics? HANLEY: RPI. And since everybody at that
time was into germanium, I had to melt my own silicon,
and I had barricade devices. I had a package of it go off,
lots of things like that. In ’54, I joined the
instrumentation lab, and I was there for 33 years,
but, actually, I went back. So it could be 34, because
I went back part-time. I joined the Air
Force department, and we made a lot of analog
computers [INAUDIBLE] and work with big transmission
tubes, subminiature tubes, transistors. I got interested in
digital computers and did a survey
for the Air Force on all military
digital computers. It was either late ’50s or ’60s,
somewhere in that vicinity. Then on the next system,
we got the Veran computer, which was the GP
and DDA, and we had [INAUDIBLE] in the computer. So at the time I was still
in the Air Force department, Eldon would invite me
to hear presentations by Hal Laning on the Mars
reconnaissance and Apollo computer. I did a lot of
work on components. I played a lot,
working on the benches and with integrated circuits,
and all types of things, and with other components. Eldon wanted me to tell
a couple of stories of how the AGC
went to ICs and how it got the multi-layered board. At the time, Albert
Hopkins and Ramon Alonso were designing the AGC
with core magnetic logic. I guess Eldon explained
a little bit of that, and he told me a little bit
about the old history today. So Eldon wanted me to keep
current with the design and to see if it
could be implemented with integrated circuits. And after a while, I found it
so difficult that I bet Eldon that I could build an AGC
faster with integrated circuits directly. So he took my bet,
and he provided me with the ICs and one technician. I got the instruction set
from Hugh Blair-Smith, and, of course, that’s all I
needed, because from there, I could put the rest of
the machine together. And as the months went by the
computer got bigger and bigger, and my need a little
bit more help. We did have a deadline. And that’s when Eldon
got me Herb Thaler, and work on my machine. What? HALL: Herb Thaler
came from Raytheon. HANLEY: Yeah, came from
Raytheon as a resident. And that’s how, eventually,
when we have the logic working, Eldon announced that the AGC
would be built with integrated circuits, and Herb
Thaler would be transferred to Albert Hopkins,
and they would build the AGC. I didn’t know that Eldon went
to NASA, and all that stuff, I just found out a
lot of that recently. So I would leave most of
that explanation to Eldon. But I’ll say that Eldon
did pay off his bet, so that’s one thing. This is my version of how the
AGC got multi-layered boards. BATES: We all have our own. HANLEY: We all have [INAUDIBLE]
of how things happened. I was playing with
multi-layer boards on the side in the
process, but first I want to say how the IC
logic was interconnected. We’ve got a little bit
of the information here. The interconnection for the
logic on the Block 1, which is TL-47, and the
interconnection for the logic in the Block 2,
which was the fact pack, ICs had been done by Raytheon,
and up to that time was a nickel matrix, similar
to that was used on Polaris. While we were building
the AGC, Eldon and got a contract to build a
computer for the Air Force. I can remember that
was on a Friday, just before he was going
on a two-week vacation. That was a standard thing. He came in and told me that
besides working on an AGC, I had to build this
other computer, but he wanted to have it– well, first he told
me that I had a month to spend all the money,
for the components. I didn’t know that he’d
been talking to Jim Lincoln, and Jim Lincoln
turned the job down, I hadn’t heard about
that until later. And he said, the logic had
to be identical to the AGC, and it also had to be
mechanically set for the AGC. It had to have flat packs and it
had to have multi-layer boards. Well, that’s a pretty
tall order for that time, since the AGC didn’t even– they weren’t talking
integrated circuits, they weren’t talking
multi-layer boards. About a year later,
Hopkins and Taylor had finished the brass
board, which Raytheon had built the modules
with nickel matrix, and it checked out fine. Shortly thereafter, they
received the first prototype of the AGC from Raytheon. Albert and Herb found that the
prototype had too much noise and would not work. Eldon, again, was on vacation. So they called Eldon back from
vacation, and NASA, Raytheon, and the Apollo program office
were pretty upset at that time. When we are alone, Eldon
asked me where the components for the Air Force
computer were stored, and he took the set
of multi-layer boards, gave them to Raytheon– I guess it must have
been you, Jack– and within a week, Raytheon had
a new prototype all built up, that did work. And I was surprised. The Air Force
didn’t say anything. NASA didn’t say anything. Raytheon didn’t say anything. Nobody did, they just took
the multi-layer boards, and that was it. I had to write an
[? SED ?] and a few things. POUNDSTONE: This
is the first time I ever heard that it
belonged to the Air Force. HANLEY: What’s that? POUNDSTONE: I said, this
the first time I ever heard it belonged to the Air Force. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HANLEY: I have to
add one more thing. A little bit later you guys
made another set of modules, you gave them to Eldon,
Eldon gave them to me, and I put them in the
Air Force computer. POUNDSTONE: I see. HANLEY: Everybody was happy. POUNDSTONE: How did
we get paid for that? [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: Ask Cline. No, I don’t think
we ought to do that. HANLEY: I have to
add that there’s– [INTERPOSING VOICES] HANLEY: There’s a lot of these
stories that are hidden away, that maybe things were pushed
a little bit to get it to work. BRISS: It looks like all the
informal organizations always gets things done. BATES: It’s the people,
not the organization. [INTERPOSING VOICES] FRASIER: Dave, I have a slightly
different slant on the story, it doesn’t conflict
with your facts, but it adds a little bit
of around it, I’ll get to. Unless you want me you to– MINDELL: Well, we have
one more person to go, and then we can get
right into that. FRASIER: OK. You want me to get
right into it, or wait? DUGGAN: By now,
it’s all been said. HANLEY: I’m curious, really. MINDELL: Let Ed go, and then– HANLEY: Oh, Ed? All right, got it. DUGGAN: I’ve worked
on the program. HANLEY: What’s that? DUGGAN: I’ve worked on a program
back there, and some of this– HANLEY: Oh, I know that. DUGGAN: We saw a lot of
each other, at times. My name is Ed Duggan, and
I apologize, first of all, for being late, but I tried
to cram too many things into this morning’s
car trip around town, and it didn’t work out too well. Let’s see, I came
to the laboratory, and from what I gather, this
was the format that you had. Well, I graduated from
Yale in engineering, and then came the Sloan School. The choice was to
stay at Yale and be an architect for a year, which
is about the budget I had, or come to the Sloan and
get a master’s, or kill myself trying. And the latter happened, and
I didn’t finish my degree, but I had left for
what was then Thompson Products, in Cleveland. And they became
TRW, down the road. BATES: Thompson Ramo Woolridge. DUGGAN: Yeah, Thompson
Ramo Woolridge. They got funded, and
then pretty soon the tail started to wag the dog. I wasn’t there for that
transition, but Dan Tost was. BATES: They had to work
with them on the Air Force side of the house, for
Jupiter versus Thor. DUGGAN: And this was
my factory training. They insisted, at that time,
that any new engineering hired onto the factory floor,
for what turned out to be the requirement was, until
we started complaining so hard, they were risking losing us. I worked second
shift for a year. Now Cleveland is the
worst place in the world to be as a young bachelor. If you keep him occupied
from 3:00 in the afternoon until midnight, the only thing
that save you is the bars stay open until 3:00. So it was kind of a grim first
year, but by complaining, I ended up getting assigned to a
project group, which basically, in that time– this is circa
1952, ’53, in that time frame– had the task under a fellow
name John Cofill, who some of us have known to come by. But anyway, this his
task was to move hardware from the research
and development group, whose motto was, “we
never had that problem”, and into production, which
gets nothing but problems. And he was looking for
a young, energetic kid that didn’t know any better,
who thought this could be done. And I got involved in it. And it was a marvelous place. It was rocket pumps for
the first motors that were used on some of these birds. And, in fact, I
saw the [INAUDIBLE] get blown up on that. The wiring worked wrong
on that [INAUDIBLE].. But anyway, after a
while, this was a facility that was owned by the
Navy during the war, and quite a few of the
inspectors carried over. And there was a
Navy culture there, and the inspection was tough. The misery, if you were
involved with the factory, was very high. And I decided life had to
be better somewhere, maybe if I finish that thesis, because
the fifth year was coming up, and that was it. So I quit, and this was
the third time I quit. We used to get raises that way. And went to Vermont on one– I got involved with
the magnetic drums up there for three months,
and then the crickets started to make me nervous
and I moved back to Cleveland with another raise. They moved me back and
forth a couple of times. But anyway, I came back to
MIT with the dedicated purpose of finishing that thesis,
and I needed a part-time job for the summer. And John Newton, who ran
the mechanical design part of the Draper Laboratory
that was involved in the Navy program, hired me to assist in
his production control activity and whatever. Run errands, and
that type of thing. And when I walked
into the place, I got there at 7:30 in the
morning, and Newton showed up, I think it was around 9:30. And I watched all the
secretaries arrive, and this was in April, May,
they all had shorts on. And I was tie and dark
suit, and the whole thing. And I couldn’t believe it. And I finally got
involved in this, and to make a long story
short, when I finally read or realize that
I’d died and gone to Heaven, that was when
I sent a requisition down to purchasing, and the guy
came back with six numbers, and he said, quit bothering me,
and use these as you need them. If I’d done that
at TRW, my career would have been a lot
shorter than five years. But anyway, the was six months
got parlayed into 34 years. And I think, for
probably all of us– I can’t speak for all
of us, but my guess would be that the Apollo
program was the M water mark of our careers. And it came at a
period of time when there was a national
purpose, it came well-funded. And, from my perspective
and the things that I do, namely the packaging
area, came at a time where we had experience in depth
with another well-inspired and well-run program, the Navy
missiles, which preceded it. And as far as packaging goes,
most of what we brought to– with the exception
of ICs and things were developed along the way,
and I’m not minimizing those, they were very important– the welded technology was the
one we came to the Apollo with. The development of that was done
through the laboratory, based on, as I recall it, early work. There were modules in
the Mark 1 guidance system for the Polaris,
which were basically col soldered joints. While that problem was being
worked on with Schenectady, in terms of quality control,
the secondary effort, through Sam Francis,
of Francis Associates, was doing thermal work across
the street for the Air Force, came up with a– I don’t know what
it was unsolicited, or not– but it was
a small proposal to look at the ability of using
the technique in the vacuum tube industry for making
vacuum tubes, that is, welding. And he basically
came in with a way of arranging the parts
involved in a NOR gate, so that you could
roll them together. And the program somehow
fell under Steve Cudlitz, who was looking for somebody
with vast welding experience. And, of course,
when he found out that I knew a lot
about welding from TRW, he never though of asking what
kind of welding or anything else, sufficient to
meet his requirements. So that there were
100 kVA [INAUDIBLE] welders doing turbine blades. He just transferred that
into two 15/1000 wires, went out and bought
me welding machines, which blew those joints out
faster than you could put them in. And when I got the arc
to be about this long, I decided that maybe
there was something wrong with these electrodes,
we ought to look elsewhere. So I got involved with
Gunnar Johnson at Raytheon, and the old Chapel Street, and
that was an odyssey in itself. But there was one
thing in that phase of the program on
the Polaris that I think is a significant
difference in the structure of the way the
management, the funding, and how it was controlled. And this added to my idea that
I certainly was in Heaven, and that is the Navy
had us send money from our contract
to whoever we bought from on a major development like
that, and we could control it. In other words, if they weren’t
doing what we wanted, then we would say, well,
we’ll get somebody else, and shut them off. And it’s amazing
the attention you can develop with
that kind of a clout, and I had never had
that experience before. Whenever I went near a
vendor before at TRW, I had two purchasing
guys with me, and they wouldn’t let me
stay overnight by myself. BATES: I remember the
first contract says, build it like they tell you to. DUGGAN: Yeah, it was
open-ended, but it was great. So we were able to come make a
prototype, which was a bench– one of them was a DDA, I think. HALL: Yeah, it was
the Polaris computer, at the time, which
was a DDA computer. BATES: The Mark 1. DUGGAN: Yeah, it
was a Mark 1, and it counted down the trajectory
and came up with an answer for a given set. And we had this
out on the display bench that was worked up, I
remember I got the wrong answer one time. But it was the same
solution, moving backwards. And fortunately, the
guy was demonstrating [INAUDIBLE] to some Navy brass. But anyway, that’s
a whole other story. BATES: However, Raytheon was
not in on the Mark 1 program. They came in on Mark 2
on a competitive basis. Jack never believed that, but
it was a competitive basis. HALL: Competitive
basis, but again, since we had this [INAUDIBLE]
with you, and that– BATES: With the welded design. DUGGAN: Well, Chapel Street,
I raised so much hell down there one day, we
started getting people from Sudbury facility that were
getting interesting in what was going on, and what was this
making so much noise about? I could yell a lot
louder in those days. BATES: Actually,
from GE’s standpoint, we were happy to get Raytheon
in doing the computer, because we had so much
trouble with light military, tying to get them
to do something. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: I was at GE. I was the Polaris
program manager at GE. It was called the
ordnance department. It was under Hoyt, Jerry Hoyt. And the thing was, that when
they broke away from the Army in Huntsville, it went to GE
in Pittsville, the ordnance department, and the ordnance
department had the IMU, they did the IMU. The computer stuff
was done by military. MINDELL: Was this is
the same part of GE that was doing with the Mark 56? BATES: Yes. MINDELL: No, no,
the fire control– BATES: Yes. They were doing that in OP-1. Losing money on every
one they delivered. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: Cline hasn’t
finished his story. With his breadboard,
birth there’s one story. What about Captain Harold? DUGGAN: Captain Harold? HALL: You don’t
remember that one? DUGGAN: No, you tell me. HALL: Well, Captain
Harold, who was the Navy’s boss on this whole
program, he was the big guy. And Ed had put this welded
computer out here on a bench, like this. And they brought Captain
Harold to look at this thing, because we were
trying to sell it to the Navy, this
approach Mark 2. And when you brought him
in and showed it to him, the thing blew up in his face. Got his attention. DUGGAN: That’s right, he
was leaning over a module. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: Captain Harold
was the guy in the Navy who came down to Huntsville, and
the first head of SP, Special Projects Office,
and one of the guys that worked for him was
a commander, Bill Kurtz, and he is the same guy
that worked on Apollo. So you can see, there
was an awful lot of interlacing with people, and
that’s what made this thing go. It wasn’t an organization,
and it wasn’t a contract, it was people working together. MINDELL: I think
Harold was the guy who brought the Bureau of Ordnance
to Draper during the war. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: That’s right. DUGGAN: I remember coming
back from an early meeting at Raytheon where we were
discussing the type of things we were building, and
what we wanted to do them. It was close to that
Chapel Street experience, and he says, well, we got
their money noses to itch. Because now we started seeing
more and more people coming from down the road. Well, anyway, some
of the things I brought with me, maybe
shifting into electronics. First of all, the mechanical
problem, and secondly, the mule, which I
think you’ve seen. [INAUDIBLE] We ended up
with this little ULB, Universal Logic Block
is what I called it, and basically we
could build a fixture into this
injection-molded piece. And once we had a fairly
defined length of this thing, we could make injection
moldings for either end of it. Now it had to be two
injection moldings, simply because the hold-down
screw was not dead in the middle of
anything, so we had to offset one way or the other. And so the concept, which I’ve
been dedicated to for most of my packaging, and design
experience, for that matter, is if you can build the
tubing into the part, then you’ve got a way of
getting reproducibility that’s fairly good. You’ve got other
issues, obviously, but you certainly have– the fixturing is there
for you, and it’s repeatable, and so forth. And even with
electronics, I know that you could experience
a lot of value changes, but you could usually,
as a mechanical engineer, raising enough hell so the
sizes tried to stay the same, so that it gave a place to
have a fairly stable place to execute the design. Hal Laning got interested in
this, and we made a module. And Hal had an
interconnection program, which would do the
interconnection from the to/from list,
which is the signal list. And that signal list had all
of the connections required for that module, and he
could put it in his computer and come out with a matrix. If he knew how many lines
along the wires were, and how many vertical,
he could make the pretty established
points where they made an exit on this x-y matrix. And then the matter was
cutting out the blanks in between appropriately. And this was fully automated. One thing you didn’t
have in that program, is where those circuits
were functional. So that when we fired
it up, half a flip-flop would be in one module,
and the other one would be down the street. And then you’ve got– the width of that pulse was
enormous, four micro-seconds, wasn’t it? HALL: I think it was
one micro-second. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: What year was that? DUGGAN: What this? This type of thing? That’s back in ’61. Because I came in ’58,
and I got involved in this in the early ’60s. First one I made, all the
wires came out this way, and I had a problem,
and it was designed around Mark 1 guidance. And Cutliss was in
charge, and I figured this was my last day at
the instrumentation lab. And we got hypodermic needles,
I was the biggest buyer of needles until the
hippies showed up. We put them down
in, and you could weld with them on
the bottom, and then squeeze them on the top
and put solder on them. And then came the
problem of, what do you do about those wires
that kept just jumping out? So we put RTV on
either side, then just poured epoxy on it,
which immediately made all of those tubes insulators. And we then went to a dentist’s
office and got an abrader, and abrade it off so we
could make connections to the computer. And the last time I saw this
Steve Cutliss was pounding it into the back end on one
of these Mark 1 cases, and Ed had a photographer from
internal media photographing that we had installed
it in the Mark 1 case. Therefore, the funding
would be given for it. All I wanted to do was
die, because we stacked all the memory
together, and it looked like the Dow Jones
average going up and down across
the top of it, it was the worst mess I ever saw. So I decided at that point,
we had to have a better way. And that’s when I discovered
[? Malco ?] connectors, because they were being
used on the fire controls. That was a gift from
Heaven, and when we got to the Apollo
program, we were able to get those cut
in half in their size, so we can shrink them down, too. So Laning made a major
contribution there, and then he got more and
more interested in how you do wiring like
this, and he soon was able to contribute
dramatically. Another person
that came from MIT by virtue of flunking
out twice, I think, was of the brightest guys
I ever met, Bob Morse. And he had the ability to
program this these matrices such that we could
run automation in the test equipment. In other words, we could
do continuity testing, and so forth. And I remember we went out
to the wire wrap people, and then give them a deck,
which validated ourselves for these techniques, and then
they could take and wire wrap, and it was out in Wisconsin– TURNER: Michigan. I’ve got all the
features of that program that Morse wrote, which
is a very significant– DUGGAN: It was all on
punch cards, which– MINDELL: Do you have an
interconnected [INAUDIBLE]?? TURNER: No, but I have– [INTERPOSING VOICES] TURNER: No, but I
know basically all of the features of that wrap
program, which were taken out, which was a brilliant job. DUGGAN: So we had the
automation for accuracy, that was one of the things. We knew that, with
all of its complexity, we had to have something other
than people checking it out. And secondly, the wire wrap
gave us a reproducibility that we could replicate,
and pretty soon we found that we could
drop signal nameplates over the back of
these planes, and plop the internal part, to keep
the wires from moving around. We got into trial trouble
with wire wrap once, and that was in the factory,
and it was at Raytheon. And it turned out to be,
basically, fumes in the air were attacking the
[? polyambic ?] coating on the wire, and they
just broke up into rings. And I don’t know if you
remember that problem or not, but it was a cleaning
fluid that was– BATES: Broke up into rings? DUGGAN: Yeah, little ringlets
along the polyester that was– SPEAKER: Was that Apollo? [INTERPOSING VOICES] DUGGAN: It wasn’t
in the production, but they were doing
the wrapping for us, that we didn’t have any
capability within Draper. But prior to that, we were
using the source in Michigan. And I don’t know, in some we’ve
had major, major contributions. The things I remember, having
a debate in that early program, too, about why
welding would someday make soldering obsolete, and as
soon as we saw that was wrong, we ended up with
multi-layer boards. And we put the appropriate
metalization on the top layer, so that we could
make weld joints. And the same thing we
had to do with resistors. So we did have to modify and
customize some of the parts. Fortunately, there
are only, what, three resistors, four
resistors in that switch, and a diode, and the lead
switch were already– that was [? Kovar? ?]
[? Kovar, ?] yeah. And I remember getting
the president of one of the companies,
because I only ordered three types of resistors,
and just wanted them forever. And he came in,
and then, when he realized what program
it was– and again, I’m blocking on the
name of the company. HALL: The IRC, wasn’t it? DUGGAN: No, it was a
big resistor company. But anyway, it doesn’t
make any difference. We found out what program– BATES: Bradley? DUGGAN: Bradley, Allen Bradley. BATES: Allen Bradley. DUGGAN: I’ve got to find
out what you guys take for these memory blocks. BATES: They were in Hunstville. DUGGAN: Yeah. And he came in and he
was so impressed on what we were working for
whom in his garage, basically, when
were in Building 5, but he said he’d make
sure we got them. Once he spoke, we get all
the resistors we wanted. We then could dictate
to you people, we don’t care what
you use for logic, as long as it includes this
parts list, and that’s all you get, because we can’t afford
to develop the other one. So it was that type of merging
with the mechanical things. I also remember the
incident the core logic, and at that point
in time, Apollo had been gone to the lab. I remember going to
those visits and thinking these guys are crazy, but
I’ll go along with it, in case that ever happens. And they couldn’t have it
all housed in any place, so we moved to what was
called the Apollo Hilton, I’m sure somebody
remembers that name. And the building was empty,
it had just been vacated. But they sent, naturally,
the mechanical group down there, so it
could be by itself and not bother anybody anymore. And we started to
lay that out, and I remember I was one of the people
that complained vigorously about how large this computer
would be, if we had to do this, because I frankly didn’t
know how to handle it. And that, plus the
logic issues, we ended up with NOR
logic, which basically made it very much an
upgraded derivative of the work on Trident. That covers it broadly,
at least the area that I was involved in. MINDELL: Can you say a few words
about your work after Apollo? DUGGAN: After Apollo? Yeah. My stay on the Apollo program– By that time, the group that I
had, the group got quite large, and I think, at the time,
when Apollo was in full bloom, it was about 140
people, in that range. Then we had test labs and
things like this, plotting labs. Lots of draftsmen. But the strategy for going to
that size, and then shrinking was always to have residents
from all of the participating companies send manpower in,
and then we could send it back. I had a similar
program that I left– the Navy programs went on,
and I left a senior engineer in charge of that. And that program was
running into a problem at that point in time, and
I got called back and asked to work on it, because I
was basically not doing very much on the Apollo side. Things were done. So I moved back
onto Navy programs, and was there for
the [INAUDIBLE] and the ballistic
missile phases of it. And after that, we
became the group that was the supplier for
packaging on all of the– I can’t say all
of the equipment, but we certainly did all the
Navy equipment, at that point, for [INAUDIBLE] and
for the laboratory. And we did flight
electronics for many of them, and then pretty soon it was
for the entire laboratory, after we reorganized. But then, when Russia decided
to prove to be an unreliable enemy, things
started to slow down, and it looked like
the last four years I wanted to retire,
reasonably early anyway, but I’d spent that time
laying off people that got overcome by the
economics of the society. I retired in ’92, but it was
the greatest place in the world to work in that time frame. BATES: With all the high
technology that you’re talking about here, one of the
things that always mystified, me when I went down to
Waltham, was the Dixie cup on the wire that
came out of the veil, wire going into the
wire wrap thing. Can somebody explain to me
why we had a Dixie Cup other than it kept the wire going
in there in a straight way. And who came up with the
idea about a Dixie Cup? POUNDSTONE: It was probably
a Raytheon person, I’m sure. HANLEY: Ed, do you know why? BLONDIN: [INAUDIBLE] BATES: That was
very interesting. I mean, every one of those
[INAUDIBLE] wire-wrap machines we had, and we had 10 of them,
finally, when we were through, and nine of them were
for commercial types of application. We only used one for
Polaris and Apollo. But every one of them had
a Dixie Cup on the thing. And I asked the guys,
why is the Dixie Cup? And the guy says, it works. DUGGAN: Yeah. That’s a good reason. BATES: That’s a good reason. And I thought that
was a good one, too, but who came up with it? We don’t know. Maybe one of the girls
did it, or somebody else. TURNER: I think goes
back to Grand Haven. BATES: You think so? TURNER: Yeah. I was involved with Grand Haven,
but that was the old days. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: You didn’t have to have
a big one, or a small one, or a plastic one, or what it
was– it was just a Dixie Cup. [INAUDIBLE] But that’s
a high technology. DUGGAN: It’s like
the plumber’s code. It’s what he knows
and doesn’t tell you. BATES: Yeah, that’s right. [LAUGHS] MINDELL: Well, as you
see, we have lunch here. And figure we’ll just hand the
sandwiches around, and keep talking. BATES: Sounds like a good idea. MINDELL: And continue on with– we have a couple issues
already identified. This is sort of going further. We also have some
questions and stuff. These things are all
labeled [INAUDIBLE] POUNDSTONE: [INAUDIBLE]
to avoid kinks. Got a kink in it, it was gone. BLAIR-SMITH: Somehow not
scrape the insulation off the other wires. POUNDSTONE: Well, it
was enamel insulation. That wasn’t too
big of a problem. Unless you kinked it– it
would break if you kinked it. MINDELL: So I was wondering
whether these women were textile [INAUDIBLE]. POUNDSTONE: I read your stuff. You talk about textile. I think there was a bigger
background from the watch industry. I think there were some of
them came from textile but– MINDELL: It’s interesting
because Draper used to do a lot of
consulting [INAUDIBLE].. POUNDSTONE: But
since all [INAUDIBLE] right there in that
area, perhaps some of the Raytheon plants
in the northern parts of the state probably had woman
from the textile industry. But I think mostly these
came from [INAUDIBLE].. And it was a very– they had [INAUDIBLE]. BRISS: Jack, who ended
up being the manager of that wire-wrap area? Remember there was a guy– POUNDSTONE: Charlie [INAUDIBLE]. BRISS: What was it? POUNDSTONE: Charlie [INAUDIBLE]. BRISS: Yeah, that’s right. POUNDSTONE: [INAUDIBLE] BRISS: What a character POUNDSTONE: Big cigar. BRISS: I always
perceived him to have– he was in business for himself. SPEAKER: I haven’t
seen this picture. I thought I heard you say
card reader about the– it was the tape. POUNDSTONE: No, [INAUDIBLE]. When it was time for
a mission, you guys would write them
that crazy program, do all your simulations. And then at the last one,
you decided it was right, you’d ship us the deck of cards. We had three weeks– something like
that– to get us– [INAUDIBLE] SPEAKER: After a while, we
started doing mylar tapes. POUNDSTONE: Well, that
may be after I left. SPEAKER: Maybe that was. Because that’s what
this picture is. SPEAKER: Yeah, I think it was
mylar tape [? for ?] Block 2. POUNDSTONE: Well, it was
prior to when we started. Bill [INAUDIBLE]
was [INAUDIBLE].. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: That could be. Things change in life. SPEAKER: But the rope
[? cores ?] were tape– POUNDSTONE: Same
concept, anyway. SPEAKER: The rope
cores were tape wound. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: Yeah, I
guess you’re right. The conversion to tapes. HALL: It made it a little
more permanent [INAUDIBLE].. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: Then it got the
process going [INAUDIBLE] POUNDSTONE: Well, I learned
something today, too. This is really nice
to hear these stories. SPEAKER: Yes, it sure is. POUNDSTONE: This is the first
time I ever heard you say, or [INAUDIBLE] say, that when
you put that first computer together– SPEAKER: Look at this. Isn’t this [INAUDIBLE]? POUNDSTONE: You
integrated circuits. You found it was too noisy. I never heard that before. But meanwhile, back at the
ranch, I had this engineer. Remember Ernie [? Auger– ?]
great big fat guy? SPEAKER: I remember
the name, yes. POUNDSTONE: Well, Ernie used
to come to me about three times a week, and say, Jack,
I’ve analyzed this circuit. And it’s going to be noisy,
and it will never work. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: Well, it’s
sort of interesting when you go around the table
is what certain people remember versus what some
other people remember. POUNDSTONE: Well,
certain people didn’t bother to tell those people. [LAUGHS] [INTERPOSING VOICES] BRISS: After listening
to you people, I’m surprised it
got off the ground. POUNDSTONE: It is amazing. BRISS: What was amazing to
me, on the first flight, I had a copy of a flight plan. [INAUDIBLE] And it almost
swallowed that flight plan, which was seven years later. POUNDSTONE: It was [? bad. ?] BRISS: Well, I
mean, no adjustment, it wasn’t modified that much. It was a high
point in my career. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: Well,
it was mine too, but I never even got an
invitation to go see a shot. SPEAKER: I saw a lot of them. SPEAKER: It’s funny. You were born [? into it, ?]
went to a different program. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: You got that from me. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: You know what that is? There’s very few
of those around. It’s the logic module. The welded module. BRISS: It’s not one I welded. BATES: Probably not, no. I had a lot of those. In fact, I still think
I got some in my drawer. I’ll have to look
at them and see. But I don’t know whether
you want to bring it up, but I don’t [INAUDIBLE]. The thing is that [INAUDIBLE]
was chosen as program manager at MIT, or at
Instumentation Labratory, because he wrote the proposal. And he submitted the proposal. And a lot of people
wanted to have Ralph as the program manager. But Doc made the decision, that
since Milt put a proposal in, and was the proposal
manager, that he should be the program manager. POUNDSTONE: That was his role. BATES: For some
reason, somebody got upset with Milt. And the
decision was, well, we need to get Ralph out. Ralph came to work for Raytheon. And then somebody
asked him to come back. And I think [? Hoak ?]
was in on that. I don’t know who else. But [? Hoak ?] went to see Doc. And then the next thing I
know, Ralph was back at– [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: The full story
hasn’t been very well told. SPEAKER: Maybe
it’s a good thing. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: But there’s
more to Milt there. He was a key individual
on the Mars study, which was being done
with [INAUDIBLE]—- who was the predecessor of
everybody else on Apollo. [INAUDIBLE] BATES: Yeah, thank God for him. If it hadn’t been
for [INAUDIBLE] the program wouldn’t
have ever [INAUDIBLE].. HALL: That’s right. So choosing managers. And Ralph, of course,
was in the Navy program. So Milt had the in with
the NASA [INAUDIBLE].. It was obvious that Milt
had to be the program manager for a while. DUGGAN: But he
wrote the proposal? HALL: He wrote the
proposal, right. DUGGAN: 15 words,
if I remember right. HALL: Well, maybe
it was 13 and 1/2. BATES: But between him
and Cherry, traveling with him was a real pain. DUGGAN: I used to love him
on takeoffs, where he put that pendulum up to see– BATES: [LAUGHS] That’s right. DUGGAN: –what the
angle was [INAUDIBLE].. And he’d time it
going down the runway. BATES: They used to
go through Chicago, because you could get a
meal from here to Chicago– a meal from Chicago to Houston. Then, they’d go out
and eat Mexican. HALL: That’s right. BATES: Remember that? HALL: Oh, I sure do. BATES: You know, how they could
ever do it I really don’t know. HALL: Well, I was involved
with those studies. [INAUDIBLE] BATES: The San
Jacinto Inn, yeah. DUGGAN: The San
Jacinto Inn, yeah. BATES: They’d eat oysters. HALL: And eat oysters. And Milt and [? Art ?]
[? Metzger ?] had a bet on who could eat the most. DUGGAN: I bet Milt won. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: I think [? Metzger ?]
gave up at about 120. BATES: Yeah, I think
he went up to 150. HALL: I don’t remember. DUGGAN: The best thing
thing on that trip though, Milt traveled a lot
with a martini in his hand. We were on our way
to the [INAUDIBLE] and going through the woods. And all of the gas fires from
the oil wells [INAUDIBLE] out onto the marsh. And you pull up next to
the battleship Texas. And he gets out and
looks at this battleship, which as far as he’s concerned,
in the middle of this field. And he walked all around it. He couldn’t go inside. HALL: Now they’ve got a
London Bridge down there. BATES: These guys talk about
Laning doing the software stuff. You know, Laning
was the guy that did all the [? Q ?] guidance? Matthews did the [INAUDIBLE]
minimum stuff, in Huntsville. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: Polaris and
the rest of it. But Laning did all
the [? Q ?] guidance. For the Air Force side of
the house, and everything. HALL: Laning did a
lot on Apollo, too. BATES: Nobody gave him credit. Do you know Laning is
still coming into the lab? He’s still coming into
the lab, and they have him as a consultant. And he’s working what
they call on voucher. So he makes the same amount
of money he made when he left. HALL: Do you
remember when Laning talked about a very
early computer, and only having one instruction? I vaguely remember. BLAIR-SMITH: I remember
somebody talking about that. I know that was [INAUDIBLE]
academic concept. It was kind of a Turing machine. HALL: Something like that. I vaguely remember it. Back then it didn’t have
any meaning to me at all. What difference does it make? [INAUDIBLE] computer
instruction was. BLAIR-SMITH: We got into that
kind of conversation because– so here’s this little computer
with three instructions, that does something. What’s the smallest number
that you can have, and still have a computer? And so that was his point,
that you could do it with one. HALL: I don’t see
how that’s possible. BLAIR-SMITH: Obviously,
putting together a branch is very
difficult, because you have to kind of
build up the address that you’re branching
to bit by bit. It takes a long time. I could probably reconstruct
what they had to do it today, but it would take me a moment. HALL: Another thing
I heard recently, that people are claiming
that the minimum number of [? instructions ?]
they’ve been talking about. And they’ve come up
with numbers much higher than three, or even eight. Have you heard anything about– BLAIR-SMITH: No, I
can’t say I have. POUNDSTONE: You had the first
[INAUDIBLE] machine, huh? BLAIR-SMITH: Yeah. Yes we did. That we did. POUNDSTONE: You just weren’t
smart enough to name it? BLAIR-SMITH: That’s right. [INTERPOSING VOICES] DUGGAN: When Laning saw
his first Polaris shot, he went down [INAUDIBLE]. And said well, I thought
it was going to work. And they’ve got all of
this program running. BATES: At the start
of this program, Laning made a funny
statement to me. We were talking about– I can’t think of his name now. They were talking
about [INAUDIBLE] and his phase-lock loop. And Laning made the statement,
if [INAUDIBLE] ever had to milk a cow, he’d do it
with a phase lock loops. [LAUGHTER] I thought that was really good. A quotable quote. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: Very early in
the Polaris progam, I remember Laning had generated
a simulation [INAUDIBLE] cross product [? steering ?] was
the key to the Polaris program. And he came into me,
showing this diagram, that the thing actually
came down to 0. And he thought
that was so great. And I was the same way. I mean, it puzzled
me why he even thought it wouldn’t do that. After all, Laning invented
this scheme, cross product [? steering, ?] [INAUDIBLE]
have to come down to 0, if he did, because he was
puzzled about the fact that it actually did. He’s not given much credit
for the things he did. BATES: No, he wasn’t. He was very quiet, and he did
what he was supposed to do. DUGGAN: [INAUDIBLE]
the back room. And he discovered Fortran
before Fortran was born. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: Although that
report is on his site– Laning’s report. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: I always thought
it was [INAUDIBLE] that have a [INAUDIBLE]. BLAIR-SMITH: Eldon, what do
you remember of the brief visit of George Wieser? He kind of came in to sort
of save the management of the program at one point. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BLAIR-SMITH: I’m not
sure about George, but his name was Wieser. HALL: No, it wasn’t George. George [? Reiser ?]
worked for me. BLAIR-SMITH: Oh, I’m
sorry. [? Reiser. ?] This is with a “W.” W-I-E-S-E-R. He was an advisor. He came in at some point,
because the project was– the way he explained
it to me later– I ran into him
recently at a funeral. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BLAIR-SMITH: But he
says that the project was in trouble, because we
were all these can-do guys. And people like astronauts
and NASA folks would say, well gee, we’d
like to have this, and we’d like to have that. And they’d always say,
yeah, can do, can do. And, of course, things started
falling behind schedule, every time we said that. So he was brought in, to create
a kind of project management discipline. POUNDSTONE: [INAUDIBLE] can do. BLAIR-SMITH: Yeah, right. SPEAKER: This wasn’t the
MIT team [INAUDIBLE].. BLAIR-SMITH: I wondered
if you remembered him. I only remembered him because it
was very tempting to pronounce his name “Wiser.” And when he came in, I decided
I’d better make up a limerick, to remind myself and everybody
how to pronounce it properly. So it came out something like,
a stern old advisor named Wieser popped a young engineer in the
[INAUDIBLE] when the august advisor was addressed
Doctor Wiser, what a stern old
advisor is Wieser. [LAUGHTER] HALL: No, I can’t place
him at the present. SPEAKER: Was he from MIT,
or he wasn’t part of that? POUNDSTONE: [? Could ?]
[? be ?] NASA. BLAIR-SMITH: He
was from outside. And I forget where he worked. POUNDSTONE: He
was hired by NASA. BLAIR-SMITH: But
that was his point, to be an outside management,
project management consultant. HALL: What period of time? BLAIR-SMITH: Well,
I would say ’65. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BLAIR-SMITH: Same boat. Same boat I’ve had
them for 27 years. SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] BLAIR-SMITH: Well, anyhow,
it’s a 35-foot [INAUDIBLE].. POUNDSTONE: Since
Albert is not here, has he gone by the wayside? [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: Doing what? HALL: Making pottery. POUNDSTONE: Is it
pottery, or pot? HANLEY: He does hand
painting, on the pottery. POUNDSTONE: And they can’t get
him to come to these things? [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: I didn’t see
him on any of the first two conferences. HALL: I never [INAUDIBLE]. He was probably too far away. And I didn’t expect you to come. [INAUDIBLE] I had no idea that you
[INAUDIBLE] inbox in Tennessee. And he came all the way here? [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: Do you want
me to sign up here? BROWN: Please. BATES: Or down below? BROWN: Just sign at
the top and date it. BATES: Do you want me
to sign it and date it, or do you want me to print it? You won’t even understand. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: Anybody got any of those
coins we used to have for the– given away to all
the contractors for working on the
Apollo program? They had the coins supposedly
totally made up with material from one of the spacecraft. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: The most was
interesting ones were the– remember the wheel
that they made up? The Apollo computer
was like a slide rule. SPEAKER: A mission. BATES: A mission– SPEAKER: Mission wheel. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: I was in
attendance that day. HALL: I don’t remember you,
but I don’t remember anybody. POUNDSTONE: Ralph was
the spokesman for MIT, you’ll recall. And [INAUDIBLE] was a very
famous computer conference. I’ll never forget. You guys [INAUDIBLE] document,
that nobody could possibly understand– by design. And here was this
room full of people in the auditorium
at Rice University– every major contractor
in the country was there. And they all would
stand up and ask questions [INAUDIBLE]
typical contractor, TRW or an IBM or somebody. He would stand up and take five
minutes to ask some question– in paragraph so-and-so, blah,
blah, blah, what about– And Ralph would stand
there and listen. And he’d say, the answer
to your question is, no. Next question. Or the answer to your
question is, yes. Next question. That’s all he ever
said, yes, or no. So nobody learned anything. BATES: I thought
it was interesting from a contractual standpoint. The initial contract
was for $1.9 million. They went down to
renegotiate it, and go through the whole thing. There were a few changes. It came back around $24 million. I thought that was pretty good [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: We don’t
want to talk about that with Cline Frasier around. BATES: No. He wasn’t there at the time. POUNDSTONE: No, he wasn’t. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: Plus, the
one down there you should really have known was
Max [INAUDIBLE],, or his wife. HALL: I didn’t know his wife. POUNDSTONE: You
didn’t know his wife? SPEAKER: Everybody else did. POUNDSTONE: She was the
biggest blonde buxom thing you ever saw. And she wrote a newspaper
called the Clear Lake, whatever it was. And she used to go
to all these parties, and pick up all
the dirt and put it in this Clear Lake newspaper. And then she’d get
absolutely socko drunk. OK? And her husband would
leave her, and she’d find somebody to take her home. I don’t think there
was any fooling around. Because I took her
home once, and there wasn’t any fooling around. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: He finally went– he was doing the antique
business at the same time. No, like I said, the only
thing that saved that program is that we had probably about
3 years where they really didn’t bother us that much. Those first two or three
years were very important [INAUDIBLE]. HALL: They weren’t
really organized yet. POUNDSTONE: No, they
weren’t organized. So were able to do what had
to be done, to figure out what the hell we
was going to do. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: I used
to have these. I have no idea where
they were [INAUDIBLE].. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: Cline, did
you know Dave Gilbert? [INTERPOSING VOICES] MINDELL: We’ve got a
couple of things we want to cover this afternoon. And one thing we’d like
to do is to still get Sandy to be able
to demo you some of the stuff on the
comment system on the web, so that you can at least
see what it may look like. But that also takes
valuable time, that we won’t have for talking. And while we’ve got
you here, we really want to hear about the history. There are a couple of
things that came up, that were overtly flagged
for interesting discussions. And we have some notes
for other things. And then, Sandy also had
some other questions, on larger stuff that
we’re interested in. Maybe one way to start off the
discussion for the afternoon is our question, which is
simply, what to you guys are the really
significant things here, that we ought to be looking at? Either because they were
had a long-term influence, or because they
were something that was uniquely difficult– problem
that was solved, in this case. [INAUDIBLE] were
mentioning the networks of people from continuing
on from other projects, and other engineering
cultures– which is a really important part of it. So we want to get
a sense for what you guys, forty years
later, find important about this particular project. And what, if you were
reading a history of it, you’d think ought to at least
be mentioned, if not explored in [INAUDIBLE]. CLINE: Could I pick
up what [INAUDIBLE].. [INTERPOSING VOICES] CLINE: This has to
do with the switch from signal layers in
the computer design to multilayered boards. And as I remember the story
goes something like this. Being at NASA, we were required
to come up and negotiate the contract with MIT,
or go through the budget and figure out what they would
be allowed to spend money on. And in the spring
of every year, it was, I was a part of
the team, and we’re going through all this stuff. And one of the items
on one of the line items in the budget for a
considerable amount of money was to work on
multilayer boards. And this is something
that apparently been going on for a while. And it was at this stage
where the block-2 computer had gone through class A release. So it was known to work. The drawings were a
class A release system. And my question was, well,
since we already decided on using signal layers– signal layers were being
used in the electronic CDU– why are we bothering to spend
any money on multilayer boards? And I never got any kind
of a satisfactory answer. And being under pressure
to keep the budget down, that was a thing
that got lined out. So there was no money authorized
to spend on multilayer boards. BATES: That doesn’t
stop you, though. CLINE: Just– we’ll get there. That was in the early
spring, I think. And then in August, I believe,
there was a meeting up here at MIT– a review meeting. Hugh Brady was there, some
other people from AC– probably some Raytheon folks,
and certainly MIT folks. And one of the things that
came out at that meeting was, oh by the way, guys,
the computer won’t work. And this was at a time
when we were supposed to deliver a flight-configured
computer to Grumman in December, to go on
the flight table for them to verify control-system stuff. And knowing how these things go,
if it wasn’t delivered Grumman was going to then blame any
schedule slip on the guidance system. So the other thing that gets
said at the meeting was, well gee, we didn’t
really stop working on those multilayer boards, and
the logic is all in the boards. And so at that point, we decided
to switch to multilayer boards, and to keep the signal
layers for the computer that went to Grumman, by doubling
up the solution in the signal layers– which would
reduce the capacitance. And keeping the computer tray
open, because on a flight table it didn’t matter whether
the tray was closed or not. So it was that
sequence of events– it doesn’t conflict with
what you said, Dave, but that’s kind of how it went. And the other piece of that was
that Dick Batten and the crew– Dick was convinced
that we’d never go to the moon with
a block-2 computer. It would be a block-3 system. So the next problem
was that we discovered that we could deliver
this open computer to Grumman in December,
along with the [? IMU ?] and everything. But oh by the way, there was no
software to turn the system on. And so I think I must have
gotten on my hands and knees to Dick Batten and said,
even if it’s not going to go to the moon, will you please– and even if Grumman is not
going to be ready for it. Because MIT had spies at
Grumman, and they said they wouldn’t even have
the wiring in the room until February. Will you please
turn out a program, so that we can just
turn the thing on, so we could say we delivered. it. And one of the things that’s
done for me over the years– that and one other thing– is to remember
that you don’t want to be too harsh about just
shutting some of these things off– because they
save your tail. HANLEY: Yeah, but
Eldon had it backed up. [LAUGHTER] [INAUDIBLE] CLINE: I didn’t know who paid
for those boards in that six months intervening
time, nor do I care. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: I learned
that a long time ago. CLINE: Yeah. As I say, nor do I care. MINDELL: OK, thank you. Any other– BATES: What was
your question again? MINDELL: My question
is really about what are the major themes. What are the things that
really stand out as– [INTERPOSING VOICES] MINDELL: What really, in
the end, made it successful? Technologically, what were
the really significant things which are often things that
people don’t really expect? TURNER: I think what Ed
Duggan and I are probably closer to not only is opposed to
the evolution of the continuity of the people– which we’ve already talked
about– but the continuity of some of the basic aspects
of the design concepts, which started. And there was a
continuity there. MINDELL: From Polaris, you mean? TURNER: From Polaris. Even though it went
from discrete components to something totally
different, there were a lot of
similarities, and a lot learned from that evolution. And how to partition,
for example, logic. You can start reducing, for
example, the number of wires– whatever the wires are– by putting some thought into
functionally grouping gates, that talk to each other. And also, how big
is a separable item? In other words, that was the
first welded discrete component computer– was totally welded. I mean, the whole
shooting match, you couldn’t take it apart. It was a book shape. And it did work. DUGGAN: You can replace modules. TURNER: That’s right. Oh, could you do
that in the book? DUGGAN: No. TURNER: I don’t know,
not in the book. DUGGAN: No, not in the book. TURNER: OK. But that was one extreme. Then what was
eventually the design, that went on through Polaris,
were replaceable modules. And you could replace them. Another thing which
was learned was, again, try to make
everything physically alike– even from the
individual components up to the modules themselves. So that when they hit a
production line, for example, whoever is working on them,
it doesn’t matter what specifically they do. They all look alike. So that’s one thing. Let’s see, I’m
losing my train here, but I’m trying to
think of more examples. Oh yeah, another one
was being able to change the function of
look-alike modules, based on where
they’re plugged in. In other words, essentially
do a pin-program type of organization, where you
then, because of back wiring, you make the same
basic functional module do different functions
in different places. And that, again, was something
learned from Polaris. The only one in Polaris
that did that was a memory. But [INAUDIBLE] was done at all. And that was one of the things
that was carried into Apollo. Because in that one it was
organized by bit, rather than– let’s say you had adders in one
group, and somewhere like that. There was a module
called bit module, which there were 16 of them– or 14. And that was a good
way to split them up. HALL: No, there was eight,
actually, in Block 2, because there was
two in one module. TURNER: Yeah, OK. Yeah, I’d forgotten that. HALL: Block 1 had 16. TURNER: It doesn’t matter. The basic idea was to
do something like that. HALL: Standard module. TURNER: Yeah, standard module. And of course that was an
advantage, not only physically, that they looked at that. So that when they hit
the lineup at Raytheon, they could be built with the
same tooling, same operators or similar ones. HALL: This is standardization. That was one of the
key issues that I used to present to Charles Frick
justifying integrated circuits. Because in the old
version everything was different, the core
transistor type, [INAUDIBLE].. There wasn’t any
commonality at all. And there was no way of getting
it in that kind of circuit. With integrated circuits,
you could do [INAUDIBLE].. TURNER: Right. I mean, you change. Even though they were basically
three-input NOR gates, you could have a
fan in capability just by taking a bunch of
them together and opening up the cluster resistor, or
whatever was necessary. You could do that
with the back part. POUNDSTONE: I’d like
to address that. Obviously, the key
technology issue was the integrated circuits,
as everybody has said. If we had stuck with
core transistors it never would have fit, even
if you could make it work. But I think the
other key technology and the thing that made
the thing a success was Eldon’s determination
that we were going to use a fixed
memory, which ended up being the so-called core rope. The industry was going out
to the other way at the time. This was a time when Bill
Gates was getting started. And, typically, programs
were stored in some sort of an erasable memory form. I know when I go around the
country and talk to people, and said we had this thing
called the core rope memory, they just laughed. And said, there is no
way that can be done. Because programmers will never
stop changing and, you know– SPEAKER: Oh yes they will. POUNDSTONE: The core rope
then had two features that were very good for the program. First, its ultra reliability. There’s no way that any
erasable memory could ever be as reliable as a
thing called a core rope. And the second
was the discipline that it forced on
these software people. Because when they were
told that today is the day you release the program
for mission so and so– because you’ve got to send
those cards, or tapes, or whatever it was to Raytheon,
to make these physical things. It was called a program. And then that’s
going to go down to– we integrated at the
tape, as I recall. HALL: You won’t put
any change [INAUDIBLE].. POUNDSTONE: There will
be no more changes. MINDELL: The programs are
actually manufactured. POUNDSTONE: That’s right. And that put some discipline
in the software people. At that time it was
just– they never had it. SPEAKER: They still don’t. POUNDSTONE: They don’t today. Well, when you use PROMs,
you’ve got the same problems. But we didn’t have PROMs. HANLEY: There was constraint. It was an intellectual anathema. They just didn’t want
to hear this at all. POUNDSTONE: No, that’s right. HALL: Even within Draper Labs. POUNDSTONE: Oh no,
most people at Draper didn’t believe it was
going to work, either. HALL: I was fighting
with them all the time. POUNDSTONE: But
the outside world thought we were
absolutely crazy. And I will give
Eldon the credit. He withstood an awful lot
of criticism for that. DUGGAN: Yeah, but they’d spent
so much money by that time. FRASIER: I didn’t know enough
to think one way or another at that time. Well, there was a time
I probably thought it was not the right way to go. And then there was a time
I really appreciated it. POUNDSTONE: But look
at the precedents. I mean, Minuteman I
had a drum, right? SPEAKER: Yeah. POUNDSTONE: And of course,
Polaris, we were wired. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: Didn’t Minuteman-III
have a [? drum ?] HALL: Not even II. POUNDSTONE: We had already
gone through this on Polaris, with a wired program. But you know, the program was
16 words, or something rather. I mean, it was
ridiculously small. HALL: 16 words of memory, yeah. Mark II was 12 words of memory. POUNDSTONE: But anyway, the idea
of having a large fixed memory was just unheard of. And I think that’s what was one
of the keys to make the program a success. BATES: What was the total
amount of memory at the end? It was only, what? [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: It was 30,000? HALL: 36,000. BATES: 36,000. HALL: 16-bit words. BATES: Yeah, 16-bit words. HALL: I saw an interesting
cartoon a few years back. This kid was standing on the
descent stage of the lab, looking up at the ascent
stage– probably in a museum. And he said, that computer
in there has 64 megs of RAM. That won’t even run Windows 98. [LAUGHTER] DUGGAN: That’s quite true. It probably saved the program. HALL: That’s right. It saved the program. If it had had 64 megs of RAM,
we’d have never gotten there. MINDELL: How about management? I mean, was there a formal
practice of systems engineering going on? SPEAKER: Of what? MINDELL: Systems engineering. Or were you all [INAUDIBLE]– I mean, NASA was
very [INAUDIBLE] BLAIR-SMITH: No, NASA
didn’t have one either. BATES: Let me just say
this– coming from von Braun, with that team concept
that they had there, I saw the same
team concept here. When you saw the oneness
of purpose, of what these guys wanted to do– a team concept of the
people working together, to achieve that one goal. When you’ve been talking about
the technology– and that, of course, is
extremely important. But unless they had– as loose as a
situation as they had so that they could have
a oneness of purpose and not being forced to
do something by the– they were successful
regardless of the obstacles. Which I considered management,
other people, contracts, other things of this nature say. They had a freedom to go ahead
and make these decisions, following through. Maybe you had a
lot of accidents, had a lot of failures,
but they had the freedom to go ahead and have
one purpose, and do it. And the team that
we had with Raytheon and with Instrumentation
Laboratory, at that time was second to none. POUNDSTONE: We were
discussing that over lunch as a matter of fact. Cline may not like to hear
this, but the facts are– FRASIER: Be careful. [LAUGHTER] BLAIR-SMITH: At the time
we started this program, NASA was in a state of
disorganization, if you like. They had just moved to Houston. MINDELL: They were
expanding like mad. POUNDSTONE: Expanding like mad. They were concentrating
on Gemini, and this was sort
of a side issue. And if that was the
most fortunate thing that ever happened. Because it gave us two or three
years for us to figure out what needed to be done. Let’s say it was a system
engineering phase– although we didn’t really
call it that in those days. And it wasn’t formalized,
or anything like that. But it was sort of
a phase of trying to take a first
cut at the thing, and try to get it down to a
size you might be able to get your arms around, anyway. Later on, particularly
when Joe Shea became the program manager, then
it started to get more formal. And we started getting the
Cliff Duncans and Cline Frasiers and these people
who would come in and hold review meetings. And you know, they were
worried about money. In the beginning, we
didn’t worry about money. MINDELL: Ultimately,
from your point of view– POUNDSTONE: I beg your pardon. MINDELL: Was the formalization
of the management program a good thing, ultimately? POUNDSTONE: Oh, eventually
it had to happen– eventually. BATES: But you see,
keeping pointing out that those first three
years of developing the team, and developing the purpose– regardless of all
these outside things– gave you the flexibility
to come up with a design, and with what was
necessary to do the job. Could you ever do that again? I don’t think that
could ever happen again. HALL: When you’re talking
about formalization, though, I don’t think even near
the end of this program it wasn’t formalized like
modern-day programs. POUNDSTONE: Oh, no. It was never
formalized that way. HALL: It was so much freer. POUNDSTONE: It was never
run like an Air Force– HALL: It was much
freer, all along. POUNDSTONE:
–system-management type. HANLEY: I’d like to
say a little bit more about standardization,
and components, integrated circuits,
diodes, resistance– there was standardization. And Eldon most probably
knows more than most how the design engineers
couldn’t do it. You couldn’t live
with just one gate. You couldn’t live with
one PNP and one NPN. OK? And you needed more power
or put enough power. But Eldon, you
could say something on what it took to get
the design engineer– HALL: You’re doing fine. HANLEY: What? HALL: You’re doing fine. HANLEY: They just claimed
they couldn’t do it. POUNDSTONE: I mean, today that’s
all written in a big manual. That says, you’re supposed to
have a parts standardization list, and you’re supposed to
do this, and that, and that. Back in those days the
parts standardization list was in Eldon’s hip pocket. And he said, here are the
parts you’re going to use, and here are the resistor
values you’re going to use. And here are the capacitor
values you’re going to use. And if you can’t do it
that way, go figure out how to do it anyway. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: The engineers
would come in to him– now, I got to have this,
and I got to have that. And he’d tell them, go away. He had to be tough,
and be stubborn. And he was. You know, a guy can
always figure out a way if you tell him enough times. But it took that
sort of discipline. But it wasn’t formalized. As I said, it was
in his hip pocket. HALL: It wasn’t easy. [LAUGHS] TURNER: I think one good
example of how things ran was– it was a funny example,
but I think it fits. And that is, I remember
hearing over the general page, in the Apollo building one day,
the regularly scheduled Tuesday NASA meeting has been postponed
from Wednesday to Thursday. [LAUGHTER] BATES: But I do remember
those Friday meetings. POUNDSTONE: There
was another area where I think we pioneered. It hasn’t been talked about. But I don’t believe any
program ever worried as much– maybe we weren’t as effective–
about reliability was complementary as that program. HALL: That one was different. POUNDSTONE: We did an awful
lot that pioneered that. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HANLEY: I think one thing
I really appreciated, that after we got
the flight specs, I heard the Raytheon managers. And I’m arguing about which lot
of IC’s was the best lot, which should be used in what machine. POUNDSTONE: That brings up
a story I meant to tell, and I forgot. I don’t know if Eldon remembers. Well, you must remember this. The challenge, once
we went to IC’s, was here was a brand-new
component being made by a brand-new industry. And the total number
that we really needed wasn’t all that many. We were really going to
build, what, 30 computers, or something rather. It really wasn’t that many. To the semiconductor– HALL: Back to the beginning,
it was much less than that. POUNDSTONE: Yeah. So how do you get reliability
of a brand-new component, when you’re not going
to build very many? So one of the ideas– I don’t remember whether
it was Eldon’s or mine– but I’m sure NASA
would have choked if we had to get them to bless it. We decided that in the
ground-support equipment– just test equipment we were
building for the factory– instead of building it out
of resistors and transistors, we built it out of the absolute
same integrated circuit. And then when we got a lot
in, and we tested the lot, if it was a little
bit shaky put it in the ground-support equipment. Take the good ones
and [INAUDIBLE].. DUGGAN: Didn’t the
captive line concept evolve out of this idea? [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: Block 1 Polaris
had the captive line. And the fire control
used the same transistors as we chose for the
guidance computer. That was dictated by Del Cole. DUGGAN: That was a fairly
innovative step, I think. BATES: I think one of
the things that amplifies what they have just said
is with the core ropes. I don’t know whether
anybody can remember this, but I was involved [INAUDIBLE]. We had a situation where
one of the core ropes passed its acceptance. And there was no problem
with it, and it was rejected. And so I went down to see one
of these little old ladies, and said, hey, you know
it passed everything. That cost $75,000, and
you’ve scrapped the thing. I mean, why can’t we use it? Well, what NASA
did is they brought in a lot of the astronauts
to go through the plants. Well, the astronauts
became the sons of these little old ladies. BRISS: That’s right. BATES: And so this
little old lady looks up at me with this
face, and she says, you know, I built that and it passed. But I don’t think it’s too good. So you wouldn’t want
me to pass something that I thought wasn’t too good,
to pass on to one of our boys. [BLOWS RASPBERRY]
It got scrapped. BRISS: That’s what they did. BATES: So this type of
philosophy was there. It was always the
man in the loop, that somebody is
going to be up there having to count on this thing. This isn’t a missile
that we fire, and maybe it [BLOWS RASPBERRY]
goes up in the sky. You’re talking about people. And NASA was smart. They took these astronauts,
and they brought them around. Not to meet just
management– no. They brought them
down on the floor, to meet everybody
that was on the floor. And as I say, the other engineer
and the rest of it, that was fine. But these little old
ladies, let me tell you, they adopted every
one of those people– the astronauts. Maybe you know better than I do. BRISS: Absolutely right. And they were brought in
under the guise, well, you want to see how the
components are made. And they talked to the ladies
like they were their mothers. BATES: That’s right, yeah. And what do you
think about this? And you know, how do you think
this thing is going together? And you know, they were
very much interested in every process that these
little old ladies were doing. BRISS: If they had a
suggestion– as I mentioned, I was a floor engineer– you had to listen. And you get two or
three of them together, and had some general
agreement that maybe we should change this. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BRISS: No, you don’t
ask the astronauts. [LAUGHTER] [INTERPOSING VOICES] BRISS: They have a
different agenda. MINDELL: If any of you
know, or have any leads, we would love to find
some of these women to talk to– if
they’re still around. BATES: Well, Ed was
saying that he knew. BLONDIN: I knew the
first-level supervisors. I know their names. And they all lived in and
around the Waltham area. Waltham was a great Italian
enclave at the time. They all have Italian names. It was Kitty Cicardo. POUNDSTONE: Well, she may know
if there’s any of them alive. BLONDIN: Yeah. Eleanor Capadona. POUNDSTONE: I remember her. BLONDIN: Let’s see,
I’ll have her name in a second I don’t have
the same memory I had 52– when I was 52. [INTERPOSING VOICES] MINDELL: I’m curious to
talk a little bit more about the part of the floor
that you have the pictures of. How many women would be
working on the Apollo program at any one point? And how big was this area? BLONDIN: Probably on the
ropes, up to 12 on a shift. POUNDSTONE: It
wasn’t a huge number. BLONDIN: In the
working welding modules there could have been 30,
but they were scattered. BATES: Was that in
Sudbury, or was it Waltham? POUNDSTONE: I think
that’s Sudbury. BATES: That’s Sudbury. HANLEY: They didn’t
only do that. When the people were making
IC’s and other parts, we made sure the same
astronauts would go visit them. HALL: The astronauts
visited lots of places. BLONDIN: We might have had half
a dozen or so in [INAUDIBLE].. We had a special little group,
which was module repair, in a little room by themselves. There was a lady named
Mary Tangey who ran that. And these potted modules,
you would test them before you potted them. And then you’d test them
afterwards– post-product test. And quite often they would fail,
because the potting stretched them. And then, what would you do
with this thing, that you had invested all this
time and money in– and all these components
that were so hard to come by? So they would send them
to Mary, and Mary’s girls. There might have been,
like, three of them. And they used these demo tools. And they would pick
away the foam pot, until they exposed components. They would get directions
from the test engineers, who would guess– better than a guess– which component
had probably died. And they would expose it,
and then send it back. And the test people
would verify that. And then they would take
that component out– it’s a difficult thing,
it’s welded in there with strips of ribbon– and put a new one in– which makes you have to
weld ribbons together. And we’d test it, and
send it back for potting. And, mostly, they passed
the second time around. I referred to the
fact earlier that when I was put in
charge of Apollo in Milwaukee that we
were behind schedule. So one of the first things I
did was climb on an airplane and come out to
Raytheon, to figure out if they were doing anything
different than we were– because it was on
the same program. In those days there
was always people around who would say the
contract says, or NASA says. And you could never verify it. So I figured if I got
out and walked along the floor in Raytheon,
I could talk to people who were really doing things. And they showed me– what do you do when
these things fail? Well, we send them over to Mary. Well, I get back to
Milwaukee, and I found out that somebody at AC
had said, no, no, no, that can’t be done without
ruining the module. Throw them away. And so we had– large quantities of
these things were hard to get
components, heat sinks. All this invested in, and they
were going in the trash can. And I came back, and I
said, aha, same spacecraft, same contractor, they’re
doing it in Waltham Well, our guys had to come up
with improvement on that. Instead of the
dental picks, they went out and got a machine that
a dentist uses to abrade teeth. It was called a SS
White, I think, machine. And it would sandblast
ground up walnut shells. BATES: We tried that. We did that first. BLONDIN: That worked fine at AC. POUNDSTONE: Didn’t that generate
a static charge, as I recall? BLONDIN: Yeah. I said, put it in at Raytheon. So we did. And with the integrated
circuits in the Raytheon module, we were generating a static
charge, and zapping the IC’s. And Raytheon took great
pleasure in telling the AC, you’re not so smart. [LAUGHTER] This thing you made us
do is blowing our IC’s. So it was kind of an
interesting little story on– we couldn’t get on schedule,
because we were throwing all these modules away. And Raytheon was–
I mean, this was not advanced technology–
dental picks. And things that would
dissolve the potting compound. People were saying,
what effect is that going to have on the
components– that solvent? How Raytheon got away with
it, nobody at General Motors– POUNDSTONE: They
probably wrote an OD. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BRISS: Initially, we used a
very small soldering iron, to melt the foam. BLONDIN: Or [INAUDIBLE] you
were using a hot soldering iron. BRISS: Well, let me say– and that didn’t work too well. And the ladies decided
that they’d just pick away. And the ladies decided that. I remember that. BATES: They did a
lot of deciding. POUNDSTONE: Yeah, they did. BLONDIN: That got
us back on schedule. That and a lot of other things. POUNDSTONE: In
fact, I think Battin wrote A Funny Thing Happened
on the Way to the Moon. And one of the
references in there is to the independence of the
little old ladies in Waltham. MINDELL: What other kinds of
things did they contribute? Do you remember other examples? BRISS: Well, I don’t want it
contributed to the program, but they were
high-seniority ladies. They knew what they were doing. They worked
[? probably ?] on it. I mean, believe me, they were
old enough to be my mother, and I was in my 30s then. And they just felt confident
they knew what they were doing. They worked on World
War II microwave stuff. They worked on
the tool division. They knew what they were doing. MINDELL: They
weren’t watch makers. They were making– BRISS: Not the ones in my group. Not the ones in my group. [INTERPOSING VOICES] DUGGAN: Like the
Westinghouse experience, that they go back to in the
industrial engineering field– where they told how
they lowered the lights. And Westinghouse did a famous
experiment [INAUDIBLE].. And the more they
dimmed them down, the more output came out,
even though they couldn’t see what the hell they were doing. [LAUGHTER] And it was basically
the attention they were getting
from management. And here you are on a highly
visible and patriotic almost crusade to get to the moon
before the Russians did. BRISS: Well, the program
then proceeded to be– and I certainly did– the cream-of-the-crop program. You guys are talking
about Polaris. It wasn’t known then. It was a program
or two before that. [INTERPOSING VOICES] DUGGAN: There was
that national focus, that kind of coalesced
things, I think. POUNDSTONE: We had this
policy that the girls who worked on ropes, that’s
all they could do, because they got good at ropes. And we didn’t want
them to go off doing a bunch of
other things and not be able to get them
when you needed ropes. I remember when we got to
that phase of the program when you only had three or four
weeks to make a set of ropes, I think we had about 12 rope
machines, or something like 10. I forget how many. But as I recall,
we paid those women to sit there and wait until
the deck of cards or the tape came out. And they would be sitting
there knitting for two or three weeks. And then the deck of
cards would come out, or the program would come
out, and they’d go like hell. HANLEY: Could I just
interrupt a minute? Because I’m on that subject. You remember when they found
a software problem at the very last minute, and they
had to redo a rope? Maybe you’ll remember, too. SPEAKER: I do. HANLEY: And NASA went– POUNDSTONE: I was
probably gone [INAUDIBLE].. HANLEY: –trying to find out
how long it will take to redo the ropes, and so forth. And every rope you ever had had
so many failures afterwards. And then it went into
rework, and so forth. I want somebody who knows
the story better than I do. SPEAKER: Maybe Cline does. FRASIER: I’m not sure. Go ahead. HANLEY: You remember? FRASIER: I remember a
time or two where the– HANLEY: This was only one time. FRASIER: –things
were really late. HANLEY: Very, very late. BLONDIN: I remember
that very well. I was running a manufacturing on
an Apollo program at the time, at Waltham. And for some reason
or other the ropes that had already been made
had to be reprogrammed. POUNDSTONE: Software
glitch, huh? BLONDIN: There was something
that had some reason– and I don’t know what it was. And we were down to normal
cycle on those things was– with all the rework, it
was like eight weeks, something like that. HANLEY: Right. Something of that order. BLONDIN: And these
ropes were required out in less than three. I remember that. But none of them failed. HANLEY: That’s the point I
want to make for these fellows. BLONDIN: None of them failed. HANLEY: Those ropes were
fabricated on the first time, and there were no failures. And that’s the first time
they ever had no failures. BLONDIN: They just
paid more attention. HANLEY: And the gals
used to fight and argue– OK, you’ve had it
for so many hours. And this sort of
emphasizes the fact that people do identify with
it, and that it really works. And I thought you
guys would remember. POUNDSTONE: I think
it was after I left. BLONDIN: I remember
it very well. Nobody would believe
it could be done. We had all kinds of people– I remember production
control saying, well, we’ll put up charts that show
what the schedule points are [INAUDIBLE]. And they happily
raced through that. HANLEY: And they
did it perfectly– BLONDIN: They did perfectly. HANLEY: –the first time. BLONDIN: And we
shipped right on time. HANLEY: I think you
were ahead of time. BLONDIN: What you were referring
to was called the Hawthorne effect. Remember that? It came from Western
Electric, Hawthorne plant, outside of Chicago. And a famous experiment
was brought up in industrial psychology,
where they started off to see if increased lighting
would increase production. So they needed a control group. With the control group they
kept the lighting the same, stepped up the lights
on the test group. And production increased
on both of them. And they did it again, upped it. And it increased on
both of them again. Then they started lowering
the light on the control, till they got it down
where you could barely see. And production kept
going up on both of them. And the scientific
conclusion from that was if you give
people attention it’s more important than the
lighting, or anything else. If they think what they’re
doing is critical– FRASIER: There’s one other thing
about that set of experiments that doesn’t get reported in
all the management literature, and in the management classes. But it is in the original
papers, from the early ’30s. And that is that the way people
got paid in the big plant was there was
incentive pay, but it was based on the output
of large groups of people. So if they had big output,
then people got more. And they put them in
this special room. They put production measurements
on every single machine, and they changed it to
individual pay rates. [INTERPOSING VOICES] TURNER: And the other thing I
think, Jack, is an example of– at least in my experience
in both the industrial one and also at the
lab– and that is the importance of
project-oriented groups rather than matrix. I have never seen a
matrix organization work. FRASIER: Me either. SPEAKER: We tried like
hell for a long time. POUNDSTONE: [INAUDIBLE] BATES: I got a
paper I’ll send you. It was done by my boss
up at GE in Pittsfield. And it was put in
just that way– it’s the people, not
the organization. And it’s only a
one-and-a-half-page thing, but it succinctly points out
the fact that you can put any organization you want in
there, and they’ll either be successful or they’ll fail. It says the main thing is to
get the people to work together, in a oneness of purpose,
and work as a team. BLONDIN: What you have– that was another thing we
had to do in management. We had to recognize when
to break up a program team. Well, you’d say, why
would you want to do that? Well, whenever you introduced
a new program coming out of engineering
it was much tougher to handle than a program
that had been shaken down through the years– much tougher. With the program orientation,
all the varsity players were on the whole program. It had become second nature. Everybody was way, way,
way up the learning curve. And then you put all the
brand new, green people on this terribly difficult thing
to build out of engineering. Where if someone needed
to be able to make a judgment that this is
unbuildable, and have it stick– and to have an operator
do that, she had to have, or he had to have a
tremendous amount of prestige. And the only ones
who had that prestige were the ones in
the old program. So it didn’t take me long
as a manager of a plant with about 17 programs– POUNDSTONE: To starting
taking our people BLONDIN: –to start
taking our people. That’s right. [LAUGHTER] [INTERPOSING VOICES] BRISS: And there’s a certain
amount of pride, too, they got out of a serving
on a [? group– ?] a prototype program. BLONDIN: Absolutely. DUGGAN: There is
one other point. And it’s off the
personal relations, which I think is paramount in
any kind of a team activity. But in a lot of these things
we’ve described today, we keep referring to
materials that we changed, or it caused us problems–
or things that we did that involved new material. Personally, I thought
we had the world beat when we figured out we could
weld two wires together, and [INAUDIBLE] just go. You know what I mean? But the material science
aspect of this thing began to take on dimensions. And what was extraordinary
is the sophistication level went up, and it moved
along with every program I’ve been on since. I mean, plated wire memory
was a good classic example. And we lived through
that collectively, or at least a good
portion of us did. Where a lot of the
development was now beyond the area
of the electronic, or the packaging guy and the
shop, and everything else. It was [INAUDIBLE] these little
cells were doing plating. And a good one was on the
core rope, when we got RTV. And remember, if you
overloaded that thing the heat would expand it, and
bang all the wires? And this got to be a major
kind of problem for a while. It would get diagnosed. I remember I learned that
you don’t drill a whole tight and then fill it up
with potting compound and let it just
pressurize itself, because strange things happen. And it expands. And respect for thermal control
is another serious thing with electronics. And where does it go, and how
do you get it out of here? And then, God bless,
those connectors are a major pain in the neck. BRISS: Science is always
going to be a major player in whatever’s in the future. But when it comes
down to the trenches, it’s not as important
from a technical aspect. But you don’t get it done. DUGGAN: No, I’m not
conflicting with what you say. But I think it is important to
identify that sometimes you go into these things and think
it’s just a matter of using the standard things– reviews–
and find out you get back bitten by something from– BLONDIN: This wasn’t
[INAUDIBLE] a computer. It was a module
that went in the LM. And we were getting
a corona [INAUDIBLE].. And this thing was
potted and very densely. SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] amplifier. BLONDIN: Yeah. Dense potting. And we would pot it, put
it in a vacuum chamber, draw the vacuum
chamber down, and wait for x number of minutes– until we saw all
the bubbles gone. And then check in again
for a half an hour. And then say, OK,
this is ready to go. There’s no gas. But where’s the
corona effect coming from if there’s no gas in it? So we took a device– a blender, like you
use for a frappe. And we put that on the bottom
of this vacuum chamber. And we put that module in there. And when we didn’t see
any more bubbles any more, we turned that on. That thing foamed. I mean, it was like beer– like Guinness stout. Tiny bubbles, froth
on the top of it. And then of course in the vacuum
chamber the froth collapsed. We said, how the hell
did we miss that? Well, we had thought that
the vacuum alone had enough [? poop ?] to pull all those
bubbles out, but it didn’t. And after that, then
the problem went away. DUGGAN: A lot of times that
out gassing was corrosive, too. I mean, other things
were impacted by it. BLONDIN: I remember
around watching that for the first time. And seeing this, like someone
pouring a Guinness stout, and this foam rising. DUGGAN: You’ve got a
whole new career path. BLONDIN: And [? I said, ?]
unbelievable. TURNER: Does anybody remember
the irradiated poly-olefin insulation that would detonate? This was a wire. You must remember this, Cline. Down in the Reliability
Building down the street, somebody discovered that
this great wire insulation– which was very good for cut
through, and good electrically. It was called a
radiated poly-olefin and it had some double
bonds or something. And they were running it in
pure oxygen, in a test chamber– and getting it hot,
and stuff like that. After a certain point,
it would exchange. And it would explode. And it blew the lid off
the test chamber, really. SPEAKER: I believe that. TURNER: Maybe this never
got back to you guys. But they decided maybe
that’s not a good idea. FRASIER: I didn’t know
everything that was going on. TURNER: That was
George Nail’s people. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] was
another exciting experience, choosing [INAUDIBLE]. FRASIER: I was going to say,
if I switch gears a minute from the truly technical–
the technical stuff was really important, and had really
excellent technical people. But from a far distant view,
one of the absolute essential things was that there
were checks and balances in the program. Technically, organizationally,
and the way things were set up, most things that were
done got outside review of some kind or another. And like you heard a couple
of times ago on the software, NASA had people that were
going over the software. They had software being
checked at North American, and at Grumman in a way. There were lots of
mistakes found that way, in just that oversight. Similarly, there
was a certain amount of tension between
the Instrumentation Lab, and Raytheon,
and AC Electronics– and certainly among all
those with the spacecraft contractors. And those tensions
brought out things that you never would
have found any other way. And my experience,
since then particularly, has been seeing
where there aren’t those checks and balances
how long things get hidden. POUNDSTONE: You mean
because there was not one prime contractor? FRASIER: Well, no, it’s
not because there was not one prime contractor,
but it was because there was no way of checking
and balancing. So that if somebody– engineers, especially–
if they have trouble, they say, no, we don’t
have any trouble. And they figure that if
they cover it up long enough they’ll fix it, so
nobody will find out. Well, a lot of things
you don’t get fixed. And because there are all
these checks and balances these things get found
much sooner, and in time to get fixed, than
they would have in almost any other program. BLONDIN: Case in point,
security at Logan Airport. FRASIER: Case in point,
security at Logan Airport. BLONDIN: No checks and balances. [INAUDIBLE] FRASIER: One of
the other things I think was key to
getting there on time was that managers who didn’t
fit for whatever reason, or didn’t perform, got changed. And they got changed
faster than they do in many certainly
many of the organizations I’ve worked with since– both
government and industrial. And in addition to technology,
having good management is absolutely key. Because on a program
like this, just having good technical
people won’t make it work. And so you look at the number
of changes that went on at AC, the number changes that went on
at NASA, the number of changes that went on at Raytheon. There were, I think,
a few changes even at the Instrumentation Lab. It’s those kind of things. People don’t always
fit in particular jobs. MINDELL: Why did it
happen on this program? It doesn’t happen
in many programs. FRASIER: Well, I think it
was because there was, first of all, so much visibility
about things not getting done. And the program had an absolute
date, and a strong commitment from everyone. Nobody wanted to fail. And they weren’t going
to allow themselves to fail because somebody
else wasn’t doing a good job. BLONDIN: You had the
ultimate time constraint. Kennedy had said, we will
get to the moon this decade. This program had more visibility
than any other program. You could sweep a lot of things
under the rug other places. And if you didn’t have
one weapons system, you’d have another one. The thought of an astronaut
perishing because something didn’t work properly. And then you had the
more mundane things, like incentive contracts. So that you could
work very hard, and that was
ultimately up to you to say how much money
you were going to get. And it would be
like the New England Patriots having their players
play, and then every quarter– every time 25% of the
games have been played, then the coach decides how
much he’s going to pay you. Well, anybody who’s getting
in your way of earning your incentive fee, the
fact that he’s a buddy, that doesn’t cut much. [LAUGHTER] You know, get out of my way. And because the general
manager would raise hell if you didn’t make– FRASIER: The incentive
structure of the contract was really important. And I got into the job I had
after that had been decided. So I had nothing to do
with putting it in place. This was part of putting it
all under AC Electronics. But the way it was set up,
because of this incentive– this award fee part– one of the requirements
was that you couldn’t just wait till the end of the program
and then decide how much they were going to get. You had to give progress
reports along the way. And I initially thought,
boy, what a pain in the neck. And you know, I don’t
like doing this at all. But looking back it
made a real difference. Because it was initially
monthly, and then quarterly, but we had to do– NASA, we had to go
up to AC Electronics, see the top management there. And then we had to go through
the list of things, that said, here’s what we agreed
was important to get done the last time around. Here’s what’s been done. Here’s the things
that we think were done better than we expected,
and here’s the things were done worse than we expected. And be able to back
every one of those up. And so we’d go through this
about a three-hour meeting periodically. And we’d have the AC
Electronics program manager and the senior
functional managers there– and Paul Blasingame, the VP
in charge of the whole plant, as well as [? John ?]
[? Atwood. ?] And so what this
did was the fact that what happened
in the meeting wasn’t the important thing. What the important thing was
was that there was the meeting, and that we insisted
that there weren’t going to be any surprises about
what went on in the meeting. So you already knew what
was going to be discussed. His people knew what was
going to be discussed. On our side, I insisted that
nobody could just put something in because they were angry. For an example, one of my
guys put in something about AC hasn’t done
something they wanted them to do, with regard to
Raytheon and the computer. So my reaction was, OK, how
did you tell them to do it? Well, there’s no paper. Well, they called somebody. I said, that doesn’t count. But it was the
discipline of having to do the report that led me
to that kind of behavior, led to learning of my guys. And it really
worked like a charm. And we carried that– some of the work we’re
doing with EMC Corporation in Hopkinton and they have
a sole-source supplier called Seagate, because they
can’t get anybody else to make really good disc drives. And there was a
long period of time where that was a
troubled relationship, for one reason or another. So we took this model, that
seemed to work with AC, and we modified it a little
bit and put it in place there. And that’s been really working
for about five or six years now. So I think it was some of
those management innovations that people put in place that
really made a difference, too. POUNDSTONE: Let me
expand on that a little. Cline’s point was the
visibility provided good oversight and
rapid feedback, to get things corrected. Although you deny it,
I still think the fact that NASA did not
have North American as a single contractor, and
everybody else was under them, gave you that visibility. FRASIER: I didn’t
mean to deny that. I was referring to the– POUNDSTONE: That’s sort of
the form in the Air Force. I’ve worked on some of
these Air Force programs where you’re a third-tier
sub, and the Air Force has no idea what you’re doing. And people can bury things. So the Air Force holds
these wonderful meetings with 150 second
lieutenants listening, but they don’t
accomplish anything. so I think that– FRASIER: Then they
change over every year. POUNDSTONE: Yeah, the
contract structure that was set up with
NASA gave you people that kind of visibility. FRASIER: I agree completely. I thought you were
asking different– HALL: [INAUDIBLE] getting
some responsibility. So in the Air Force situation,
those Air Force guys don’t have any
responsibility anyway, so they sort of sleep
in the meetings. HANLEY: They sleep,
and they play cards. HALL: In NASA, they had
some responsibility too. HANLEY: That’s true. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BLONDIN: Your typical Air
Force review would be a senior officer and a whole bunch
of– somebody said second lieutenants– a whole bunch of them. And the meeting would open. And these guys had
everything to say. And it would drag
on and on, and on. And it was non sequitur. The Navy, like
NASA, would come in and there would be a top guy. There would be a four striper– on rare occasions an admiral. And if they had a
lieutenant commander, it was to carry the
captain’s briefcase. That was it. And it was like the
bridge of a ship. You know, captain’s on the
bridge, everybody else shut up. I made a presentation one could
time to Admiral Julian Lake, surrounded down in naval ACS. And I wanted to prove
to him that we could– we, Raytheon– could
handle the production on this jamming system,
as opposed to Hughes– had huge production facilities. And I went through a
half-an-hour presentation with slides. And when I was done– that was
the Air Force, the first place. I got through slide
one and someone would have started raising
non-sequitur questions. I went through the whole thing. Everybody at that table
had their eye focused on Admiral Lake, not me. And I was giving
the presentation. It was all over. And I said, any questions? And Admiral Julian Lake
said, I don’t have any. Anyone else? Dead. [LAUGHTER] If that had been
the Air Force, you would have had a
Congressional debate. Why they did that, I don’t know. I guess it was the bridge of
a ship versus fighter planes. And NASA was the same way. They sent in their head honcho. And you just wait, you know? You listen to the argument. And then you say, I think
we ought to do this. And that’d be it. OK, salute and execute. We were glad to get off the
frying pan, because none of those decisions were easy. I mean, you had to
get there in the ’60s, or you were going to
embarrass the country. The thing better work, or
you’re to fry an astronaut. Your corporation’s
reputation is at stake. Every corporation had huge
ads saying, we’re on Apollo. And they would take them out. I used to shudder
when I saw them. I said, my God, this
thing better work. BLAIR-SMITH: Bill Tindall was
always very good in that role, as the NASA presence. In terms of software reviews,
he ran them like that. He followed everything,
understood everything. And if there was anything fishy,
he’d let you know in a second. BLONDIN: It was a different
group than the other NASA– an entirely different group. The kinds of guys
they had in there– and I ended up working
for a couple of them– for example, Joe Shea. They weren’t the old Foggy
Bottom-esque types, Cline. They were guys who thought
quickly, could make decisions. And they were bound and
determined to get to the moon. POUNDSTONE: What other
questions do you have? MINDELL: Sandy
had some, I think. BROWN: I was kind of
curious about what happens after the Apollo project. What happens to the team? We’ve talked a lot about some
of the new techniques that were developed– the
material science aspect. What happens after this? What happens to the little
old ladies, for example? HANLEY: They retired. BRISS: No, we moved them
onto other programs. [INTERPOSING VOICES] DUGGAN: Well, these things get
projected forward, I think. [INAUDIBLE] put in your
toolkit for the next proposal. POUNDSTONE: Certainly from the
contractor’s point of view, the lessons that were
learned from Apollo were just applied to
the next generation. HALL: Yeah. They went into the Navy
programs, and [INAUDIBLE] POUNDSTONE: The Navy started it. Apollo was just a
second-generation Navy program forward. DUGGAN: They picked up a lot
of the things we learned Apollo too, including [INAUDIBLE]. But we had Dave Gold in
those programs, which he was a single-minded individual. He’d make decisions on the
spot, sometimes with a lot of [INAUDIBLE]. POUNDSTONE: From an
individual’s point of view, as you heard here, in
some cases the careers continued along
Apollo or NASA lines, and other places the careers
moved somewhere else. And like I said, some who stayed
on Apollo too long, like Eldon, it didn’t work out too well. BLAIR-SMITH: Well,
Eldon, how did it come about that
once we kind of had to give up being architects of
spacecraft computer systems, and we got into fault
tolerance, can you trace how that came about? HALL: Yeah, it actually started
in Apollo, near the end– before there was any
flights or anything, and before computers could
be accepted as reliable, Paul Ebersol gave us a contract
to build a dual computer. I wanted to figure out what
the name of that thing was. POUNDSTONE: Dual
computer program. SPEAKER: That was the
dual computer program. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BLAIR-SMITH: DCA,
they called it. HALL: Yeah, DCA. It was strap-down IMU,
and a dual computer DCA. That combination was sort
of in the background, in case the mainline thing
didn’t work, or something. Well, Ebersol supported
that, and pushed it. Well, first of all,
the Apollo computer had fault tolerance, in a sense. PANELIST: Yes, it did. HALL: So we had fault
tolerance there, and then the DCA started
a different configuration of fault tolerance. That led to other forms
of fault tolerance, like multi processing
and so forth. A lot of that was
still supported by NASA, sort of looking
towards the shuttle. Even though eventually we lost
all contributions, or almost everything to the shuttle. But that’s where multi
processor concepts got started. So does that answer
your question, sort of? BLAIR-SMITH: Yeah. Well, in any case, I
was just bringing it up partly because– you know, what
became of people afterwards? In our case, we
took the same bunch of people– really, I
think, substantially changed direction. It was very clear that
after Apollo that NASA felt, perhaps correctly,
that the industry was able to build spacecraft
computers– which they obviously hadn’t been before. And so perhaps in some
sense we taught the world how to do that. HALL: Yeah, so we
became obsolete. BLAIR-SMITH: We did ourselves
out of a job that way. POUNDSTONE: Because we were
non profit, couldn’t compete. HALL: Dave Gold
used to say, the guy that makes the mistakes
always get more attention– because everybody comes in and
helps him solve the mistake. BATES: But then on the
Navy side of the house, we kept that design
agency concept– even to today, on
the Trident program. DUGGAN: There were some
major commercial spin offs out of the Apollo. POUNDSTONE: Well, there
were some major companies, like Intermetrics with Miller. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: That’s an
interesting aspect. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: [? Alonzo. ?]
Remember that one? BATES: What about
the space group over here under Eisenhower? That moved off. I mean, there were
a lot of spin offs. In fact, Doc made the
comment at one time– his job was to
expand technology. HALL: Yeah, that was
Doc’s whole concept. BATES: And then he got pissed
off when everybody left. HALL: Not really. SPEAKER: No, he
wasn’t, not really. BATES: Well, I don’t know
whether it was Doc or somebody else, because we
ran into a situation where other companies
were starting up. And they were taking people off. And they said, well, why
are you hiring these people? And I got caught in the
middle of one of them, where they were
setting up a company. I think it was even
Miller’s company. And they said,
well, why didn’t you let them know, because they
would keep them happy there? Well, they didn’t want
to be happy there. HALL: That was after Doc
was sort of going downhill. Dave Driscoll got
very upset at people. BATES: That was the guy. SPEAKER: Well, we had
other internal politics that were driving it. POUNDSTONE: That might
make an interesting part of your report, if you
could sort of identify all of the spin
off companies that were formed out of this group. SPEAKER: What the degradation
curve was, and where they went. CLINE: There’s one spin
off from this program that is I don’t think
generally recognized, and I certainly have
never seen it in print. One of the problems we have
with the Apollo computer was– I think this was probably one
of the first developments that went through extensive
random vibration testing. And we found lots of
problems in the computer, and in the relays,
and everything else. POUNDSTONE: We didn’t
have relays in Poseidon. That’s why we didn’t– FRASIER: OK, you
didn’t have flat packs. So they found contamination
in the flat packs. And they were, as it turned
out, the cleanest flat packs that could be bought. And we tried lots
of other places. And still you had contamination. The little silicone particle
if they got in the right spot, would cause a– [INTERPOSING VOICES] FRAISER: These are silicon. [INTERPOSING VOICES] FRASIER: This
would cause hiccups in the computer,
which is not too good. And that got sorted
out through attention to cleaning the [INAUDIBLE]
random vibration screening. Then there was– maybe ’68,
or something like that– one of the guys at Autonetics
had jobs like yours– come around to see
the NASA folks, and try to see if
there’s programs. But meets in my
office in Houston. And we were talking,
and he said, I really shouldn’t
tell you this, but I asked him about
the Minuteman-II. He said, the last nine
shots, we had seven failures. And these are the
first nine shots. We had seven failures. I said, my God, what happened? He said, well, it
gets up to staging. This thing stages, and
the computer goes crazy and it blows up. From that conversation,
I told him what were were doing
on Apollo and what you guys had found out. And I expected the way
things go that that would just totally
die, it wouldn’t get through the system. Apparently, this is a
real crisis at Autonetics. And the next step was
they came to Raytheon. Raytheon screened their modules,
teach them how to screen. And that’s what got the
Minuteman-II program back online. BLONDIN: That’s a case in point,
though, that never could have happened on Apollo–
where you could have had seven out of nine failures. HALL: I couldn’t afford that. POUNDSTONE: They couldn’t
fly one out of it. HALL: That’s right. BLONDIN: It just– it
kept everybody focused. BRISS: That’s that
man-on-board stuff again. POUNDSTONE: In my mind, as
much as I hate to admit it, I think that issue of the
contamination in the flat packs was a– we were all at fault in there. We never thought
about weightlessness. HALL: About what? POUNDSTONE: Weightlessness. HALL: Oh yes, we did. POUNDSTONE: I don’t recall
thinking [INAUDIBLE].. HALL: But what could we with
it sitting here on the earth? I was very concerned about what
was going to those particles. BATES: Well, what was the
one with the solder ball? HALL: Apollo 14. BATES: No, no, this
was inside a flat pack. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: It was in a relay. Apollo 12. BATES: When they
sealed the thing– North American had a
problem when they sealed– I thought it was a flat pack. They had a little solder
ball on top of it. And when they wanted vibration
the solder ball fell off. HALL: I thought you meant
an actual [INAUDIBLE].. POUNDSTONE: You’re
talking about a hybrid. BATES: Yeah, OK. POUNDSTONE: The solder hybrids. HALL: Apollo 12, the main
panel DSKY at the launch pad signaled what was
normally the test for detecting these shorts–
all eights on the DSKY. They were just about
ready to launch, and that signaled all
eights several times, which proved there was some sort of a
contamination in those relays. Yet that thing flew
without any problem. So you sort of
answered the question, are these things
going to float around? Yes, we– POUNDSTONE: What we
didn’t do, Eldon, we didn’t investigate
passivation of semiconductor surfaces back in those days. HALL: Not seriously, no. POUNDSTONE: That’s right. Today that’s a standard
in the industry, where we needed it back in Apollo. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: And the particles
got static charge and would stick to things. POUNDSTONE: I know. But if you were
passivated, they wouldn’t. HALL: What? BLAIR-SMITH: If you
had passivated– we had unpassivated surfaces. HANLEY: You can contaminate the
goddamn surface pretty easily, too. HALL: That’s what we
were worried about. [INTERPOSING VOICES] CLINE: [INAUDIBLE] out of some
of these meetings, [INAUDIBLE] I’m going down [INAUDIBLE]. BATES: They went till 2 or
3 o’clock in the morning. POUNDSTONE: Well,
the other issue, where perhaps it was a failing
of the lack of formal system engineering, the fact
you guys never really had a spec for what
you were building. HALL: That was beneficial. POUNDSTONE: There was one
place that was not beneficial. As I recall, you never
had a spec for fire until after the accident. HALL: Until after the accident. POUNDSTONE: That’s right. HALL: Neither did anybody
else on the [? staff. ?] FRASIER: I think
North American had– POUNDSTONE: No. [INTERPOSING VOICES] FRASIER: I take a
different point of view. Fire was something that
concerned NASA from day one, particularly because they were
going to be in 5 psi oxygen. So people did pay some
attention to that. And there were
numbers of tests done at zero g’s in C-135’s,
in 100% oxygen. And I remember seeing the movie. Seeing [INAUDIBLE]
the fire gets lit, and the fire goes out quickly. And so the spreading
of fire in zero g was not considered that
it was going to happen, even if you got something. Now, people were concerned
about fire, flammable stuff, but not anything like to
the degree after the fire. In the IMU, had a
nice thick layer of polyurethane-foam
insulation around it– which in 100% oxygen would burn
like that, but not in zero g. And it was then after the
fire that people had really gone through and looked
at every single thing, to see what would burn. And even after the
fire, North American kept, for quite a while,
their big Plexiglas panel. It was now painted
with fire retardant paint over the
electroluminescent displays. And after test it, I
think it was run at AC. And the same kind
of panel was going to be put for the
guidance-system controls. And the test was
run at AC, where they put a hot wire
on that in a chamber, with 5 or 16 psi oxygen now. But it was quite a
spectacular movie. You got this little flame going
initially from this hot wire. And then pretty
quick you get poof. And here would go this little
explosion of burning plastic out. And them poof, and
poof, and poof. And when people
saw that movie they decided that all
these panels had to be changed to be aluminum. So there was a lot
of focus on that. POUNDSTONE: That [INAUDIBLE]
passed down the guidance, wasn’t it? FRASIER: Oh yes, absolutely. The panel on the guidance
system was a solid piece of aluminum with the
letters engraved out, over an electric
luminescent panel. There was, on the DSKY,
it had originally– I think there was some
plastic back there. And it ended up with a
piece of plastic over it. And the glass kept cracking
in vacuum testing– over and over, and over again. It took a long time to get out. POUNDSTONE: I remember
cracked glass. SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] FRASIER: Yeah, we did. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: That was after the fire. POUNDSTONE: I never saw
the spec on flammability until after the fire. I remember that. HALL: I didn’t know you had
ever seen a spec on flammability at all. SPEAKER: I don’t remember
a flammability spec. But the problem– HALL: I don’t either. SPEAKER: But I was
too into paperwork. SPEAKER: You got rid
of the pure oxygen. BLONDIN: Kind of like a
spec on cockpit doors. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HALL: No, we never had a spec. POUNDSTONE: That’s right. You had no spec. But typically, if you’d have
been a sub to North American, they’d have written
you a big spec. HALL: That’s right. POUNDSTONE: It
would probably have had a lot of mistakes in it,
but you’d have had a spec. HALL: And we’d have been
tied up in knots forever. POUNDSTONE: That’s right. That’s right. BLONDIN: Did you ever read
the Army spec on cookies? So help me God, they
have a spec on cookies. POUNDSTONE: I’ll bet they do. BLONDIN: They did. Instead of going out and buying
cookies, they had spec on it. FRASIER: You ought to read
the specs around the M-16, and then how that led to
all the jamming problems. I mean, it’s crazy. POUNDSTONE: Have we
answered your question? BROWN: I think so. This Intermetrics story
seems kind of interesting. Could someone talk a
little about Intermetrics? BATES: John Miller? SPEAKER: John Miller
is still around. POUNDSTONE: Who knows that best? BATES: I don’t know,
other than John asked me to be his
marketing manager once, when I was at Raytheon. And I went and looked. And I saw all the guys. They had– Copps went there. SPEAKER: Flanders went. BATES: Flanders went there
And I came to the conclusion– I said, hey, you got a bunch of
marketing managers right here. I said, all you need
is a marketing plan. You got [INAUDIBLE] what you
got, and where you want to go, and how you going to get there? And put together a marketing
plan that would do that. Now, I did that with him, OK? And he paid me off by
taking me out for dinner. But he wanted to go to Joe
Tecce’s, which he couldn’t get into, so I had to go through
the back door to get him in. But anyway, no, he left, and he
started that company as a spin off– and did very well with it. And all the people
did well [INAUDIBLE] HALL: Yeah, he
became a millionaire, while the rest of were paupers. POUNDSTONE: Does Intermetrics
still exist today? BATES: No, no. He sold it. SPEAKER: He sold it. POUNDSTONE: To who? BATES: I don’t know, but
he sold it to somebody. And now he just raises orchids. HALL: Well, at the last meeting
Jim Miller was in this meeting. He was with him at Intermetrics. He’d be the one that
got [INAUDIBLE].. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: Well, Ed Copps is
still around, isn’t he? SPEAKER: John [INAUDIBLE] SPEAKER: Steve Copps
is around still. BATES: Is it Steve Copps? SPEAKER: Well, that’s
the younger brother. I don’t know [INAUDIBLE]. SPEAKER: Did Steve go
to [? Big ?] [? I? ?] SPEAKER: Yeah, yes. SPEAKER: Ed was at the very
first meeting, I think. SPEAKER: Ed Copps was– SPEAKER: Yeah, I think he’s
been one of the [INAUDIBLE].. HALL: Yeah, and Jim Miller
was in the second meeting. SPEAKER: That would be a
better contact on that. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER: And you know
Alonso formed a company, and you had him in here. He probably talked about– BATES: I’d get a hold
of Eisenhower, too. Eisenhower has a company
over here, Space something– whatever it’s called. I’ll get you his business
card, or whatever it is. FRASIER: Was Eisenhower
involved in Apollo? BATES: I think he was, but
I can’t really remember. HALL: I don’t remember the name. BATES: He was a spin
off out of [INAUDIBLE].. FRASIER: But that’s in the ’80s. BATES: And he brought
Stanton with him, and he brought a whole
bunch of other people. HALL: Yeah, he wasn’t
involved in Apollo. BATES: I don’t think so, no. But he didn’t ask that question. He talked about
spin offs out of– [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: Well, certainly
Alonso and Miller are. SPEAKER: I’m sure
there are more, but I can’t think of them. HALL: Hopkins. All of those guys. SPEAKER: Oh, Hopkins
formed a company? HALL: Well, he joined a company. He was the one that got into
trouble with Ed Driscoll, because he was leaving
to go to a company, and supposedly taking
proprietary information with him [INAUDIBLE]. SPEAKER: That’s why you leave. [LAUGHTER] HALL: Especially that
was Draper’s design. You learn something, and
you’re leaving, and go do it. BATES: How about
Mike [? Zupuppo ?] DUGGAN: That’s another aspect
of the Draper organization that you may want
to take note of. Doc always had the idea that
if you come up with idea and execute it– and have the capability
to do it yourself– and that went to [INAUDIBLE]
initially, which is his forte. But the capability to actually
mechanize what it was you thought up– which means you made
that transition, and tested and used it. This is kind of a
unique thing I found. It was not just a little
research lab [INAUDIBLE].. He actually had
machining capabilites to extraordinary
degrees, particularly in the [? general ?] technology. And he carried it. If you brought a program
into [INAUDIBLE]—- at least in the initial stages– and it was significant,
you got to run it. BATES: That’s how
[INAUDIBLE] got the job. HALL: Yeah, [INAUDIBLE]
got the job. But that was that policy. BATES: Yeah, that
was the policy. DUGGAN: And [INAUDIBLE] and
people that were with him were key [INAUDIBLE]. BATES: But you’re talking
about the Apollo computer here. If you haven’t got an
[INAUDIBLE] from Draper Lab, or from the
Instrumentation Laboratory, it had the eye of the gyro,
the IMU in the middle, and the over in the
periphery was the computer. Now, if you go in from Raytheon,
the computer was in the middle. Everything else
was the periphery. DUGGAN: He also have that
tree, and Draper [INAUDIBLE] and it was all the rest. BATES: I asked him once. I said, where’s
your organization? [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: He’s picked up the phone
book, and he says, that’s it. DUGGAN: The other
thing he did, he always gave you titles
that were similar to the academic structure. And if you get promoted
enough, you could have a title [INAUDIBLE] deputy assistant– whatever it was you’re– SPEAKER: And you were
still doing the same [INTERPOSING VOICES] BATES: He also had a funny
one about a program manager as a technical director. I remember [INAUDIBLE]
went in there, and he had a
problem with Porter. And [INAUDIBLE]
says to him, Doc, I want to be the
program manager. And he says, you don’t want
to be a program manager, they don’t do anything. All they do is shuffle papers. You want to be the
technical director, he’s the guy that
runs everything. He says, not with Porter, Porter
runs everything [INAUDIBLE] So Doc says, no, you’ve got
to be the technical director. So [INAUDIBLE] was that. DUGGAN: It was an
interesting organization. BATES: Oh yeah. POUNDSTONE: Well, what
else can we do for you? BROWN: Well, I think I only
have one more question. And that really
picks up the question we started the session with– who else should
we be talking to? I mean, there have been a lot
of names that have come up. I’m just wondering if you can
think of anybody else that we ought to be speaking
to that we haven’t– that obviously hasn’t come up. BATES: I think you ought to
come up with a set of topics that you’re interested in. And then send it around
to everybody here. HALL: And then we can
fill in the blanks. BATES: Fill in the blanks
of who you should talk to. HALL: I did mention to
Dave that the key issue is the reliability aspect. BROWN: Sure. HALL: That should
be another meeting– pulling in people who
contributed to the [INAUDIBLE].. POUNDSTONE: Well, I believe
that Raytheon and Draper Lab did a lot of pioneering in
reliability in that program. HALL: Yes, we did. POUNDSTONE: I know
what I did from my end. In a lot of ways, we
competed with each other, which was healthy. But we started out
with a policy of, if you’re going to analyze
every stinking failure down to the nitty gritty, you’re
going to understand it. And we started building
up a failure analysis lab. I bought the first sim
out there near Sudbury. And all sorts of fancy
materials, equipment, and developed a very good
materials laboratory, that never existed before. And Draper started
doing the thing. DUGGAN: Yeah, it forced us
to get into self-defense. POUNDSTONE: That’s right. They had to. HALL: Plus you had to have a
lot of those for the Apollo, because the flight
processing specs required a lot of [INAUDIBLE]. BATES: Well, those
were the guys who were hired by North American,
to do an analysis of some of the parts. We did an awful lot
of outside analysis for people, because that
facility was established. POUNDSTONE: But that was a– I assume the other
people in other programs were probably doing
similar things. But I think we were probably
a year two ahead of everybody there, in terms of the depth. HANLEY: Not the same
that I’ve ever seen. Because what we used
to do is we used to take all the
failures out of a lot. And then we used
to analyze them. And then we used to put a
weighting factor on them. And with the
weighting factor, you could just reject the whole lot. I don’t think I’ve ever seen– POUNDSTONE: But I think there
was a general understanding– whether it was in
the spec or not, I’ll be damned if I know– that
anytime there was a failure, you just got to find out why. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HANLEY: Oh, yeah, the failure
analysis had to be done. [INTERPOSING VOICES] DUGGAN: Later on there were
a lot of burn in experience, and other burn in components. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HANLEY: Yeah, that was
another, where we were planning [INAUDIBLE]. POUNDSTONE: That’s funny. You know, all that
burn in that we did, and so forth, years later I
went up to where he came from. It was Delco in those days. [INTERPOSING VOICES] POUNDSTONE: And they were
building 18,000 computers a day up there. And they had– HALL: One for automobiles. POUNDSTONE: For automobiles. And they had the damnedest
burn in rack you ever saw. And a burn in– it was just Apollo multiplied
by about a million. But I think a lot
of the principles came out of what we were doing. FRASIER: Initially, they
did I think 18 days burn in on those computers. HANLEY: Remember when
we had leaky packages? SPEAKER: Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] HANLEY: I think that’s
what Ed is referring to. And what [INAUDIBLE]
and I did is we got some devices that
we knew were real bad. And we shoved them through the
line, to see who would come, and who would be picked up. And they didn’t get picked up. Then after that, we tried all
kinds of different systems. And finally, there was
the weighing method. Remember that? POUNDSTONE: Yeah,
the weight, right. HANLEY: You had all
these marble platformed with these balances on them. POUNDSTONE: I think Aaron came
up with that one, I bet you. SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] POUNDSTONE: Yeah, that
was the technique. We pressurized them and weighed
them to find leaky packages. Yeah, I remember that. HANLEY: When I first
went into the room and I saw all those
scales, I said, my God, what have we done? [LAUGHS] POUNDSTONE: But
as I said, I think a lot of the reliability
techniques and practices that were developed on that program
spun off to other industries around the country. HALL: [INAUDIBLE] spun
off to the military spec– 1833, or whenever it was. A lot of the pictures
that was developed and the [? container ?]
analysis was done on Apollo is directly into
that military spec. SPEAKER: That’s true. HANLEY: Yeah, I know
what you’re saying. They copied them
verbatim [INAUDIBLE].. FRASIER: The thing I
wish I had still is the color slide of
the one flat pack that had purple plague, that
got found in a computer. That I had to then stand up
before the flight readiness review board in Huntsville,
or at the Cape– I’ve forgotten where. Yeah, it must have
been at the Cape. [INTERPOSING VOICES] FRASIER: And explain that this
was a failure, that we had not been able to correct. And it was the only one
we’d ever seen like this. HANLEY: Well, that was because
of the leakage, I’m sure. POUNDSTONE: There probably
aren’t any more in there. [INTERPOSING VOICES] HANLEY: Don’t you remember when
we shut down the whole line? Hugh Brady was yelling
and screaming at us, and getting us fired,
and everything else? I can remember. [LAUGHS] FRASIER: That’s the same
flight readiness review that– remember the [? wiggly ?]
[? leaded ?] transistor memory drivers? HANLEY: Oh yeah. FRASIER: I [INAUDIBLE]
we had those two, and those are in the thing. And I thought it was OK to go. [INTERPOSING VOICES] BLAIR-SMITH: On the
architecture side, I wonder whether it’s still kind
of extraordinary that we had what you might
block 0– the AGC3– block 1, and block 2. And nobody worried about
backward compatibility. That was extremely beneficial,
because everybody was learning everything about the project. And it was absolutely correct
to throw away all that old shit and start over. POUNDSTONE: You only
got away with that one because you didn’t have a spec. SPEAKER: I have to go, too. BROWN: Thank you very much– from me, and [INAUDIBLE]
for coming in. This has been an
extremely valuable. And we hope you will
continue your involvement with the project. A couple people here who’ve
been involved before. And like I said,
thank you very much. This has been a very
valuable session.

Reynold King

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