Digital Apollo


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Digital Apollo is an excellent and unique historical account of the lengthy, and often pitched struggle of designers, engineers, and pilots to successfully integrate man and complex computer systems for the Apollo lunar landings. It brings back fond memories. -- Edgar Mitchell, Sc.D.; Captain, USN (retired) Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 14 Mindell's well-written book deals with a terribly important and often overlooked aspect of space age technology. Commentators often present space exploration in the form of a two-sided debate, where advocates of robotics confront advocates of human flight. As Mindell adroitly demonstrates, the engineers who designed the spacecraft that actually flew to the Moon created by necessity a third position, fashioning a practical solution that stood in between the astronaut as automaton and the astronaut as a pilot fully in control. This is a 'must read' book for anyone seriously interested in understanding how space flight really works. -- Howard E. McCurdy, author of Faster, Better, Cheaper David Mindell's very important and accessible book precisely dissects Apollo history, proving Apollo a harbinger of our current digital era. -- Charles Simonyi, President and CEO, Intentional Software, and Participant, Soyuz TMA-10 Mission to the International Space Station, April 2007 Digital Apollo takes the reader on a wild ride following the impact of the increasingly complex world of data processing, control, and display on space flight. The book traces the evolution of man's role aboard high speed aircraft, the hybrid X-15, and ultimately space flight, and the lunar landing. This book is fascinating history and an important resource for future space explorers. -- Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Former Deputy Administrator, NASA

About the Author

David A. Mindell is Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing, Professor of Engineering Systems, and Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. He is the author of Between Human and Machine- Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics and War, Technology, and Experience aboard the USS Monitor.


[A] wealth of research that even the most informed space fans can enjoy. Mindell avoids the temptation to glorify the space program, instead dealing with the nitty gritty logistics involved in getting a man to the moon. Digital Apollo succeeds in providing an inside track to one of the most difficult technological challenges of the 20th century.

-James Thorne,

Mindell joyfully plumbs the deep history of Apollo's decade-long clash between the MIT eggheads who built the computers and the thrill-jockey military test pilots who used them.

-IEEE Spectrum

The book is a refreshing reminder that it is still possible to uncover new stories about the early years of the American space program.

-Dwayne A. Day, Air & Space

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