North City Tech Meet Up: Restoring the Apollo Guidance Computer: Lessons from a 50-year-old system

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

North City Tech Meet Up
Monday, October 5, 2020, 7 to 9pm

Online Zoom Meeting - Free and open to everyone

Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 858 7210 0612
Passcode: 966991

Restoring the Apollo Guidance Computer: Lessons from a 50-year-old system

The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) played a critical role in the Moon landings. One of the first computers to use integrated circuits, the compact AGC provided guidance, navigation, and control onboard the spacecraft. 

This talk explains how we repaired an AGC (including its ferrite core memory), got it running, and ran the original Moon landing software on it. 

I'll also discuss the AGC's innovations in software engineering, user interfaces, interpreters, real-time computing, and multi-tasking, along with its performance mining Bitcoins.

Ken Shirriff

Ken Shirriff restores old computers, including a Xerox Alto and an IBM 1401 punch card computer. 

His blog ( discusses reverse engineering everything from chargers to microprocessors. 

He wrote the Arduino IRremote library and added seven characters to Unicode. 

Ken was formerly a programmer at Google and holds a Ph.D. in computer science from UC Berkeley.

Organizer note:

The silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic is that we can bring in speakers from all over, not just in the Seattle area. This presentation by Ken Shirriff would not have been possible otherwise. Having followed Ken’s blog for some time I and thrilled that he is able to join us from Silicon Valley via Zoom for this presentation.

Ken’s bio doesn’t begin to do justice to the level of effort involved in reverse engineering and restoring the Apollo systems and many other devices. His blog is both entertaining and informative. Just understanding how the moon landing was accomplished with so little computing horsepower is one thing, actually making the computer work and then mining Bitcoin on it is something else entirely.

Ken assures me that he will leave lots of time for questions.

ZOOM Information:

Topic: North City Tech Meetup featuring Ken Shirriff
Time: Oct 5, 2020 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 858 7210 0612
Passcode: 966991

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The North City Tech Meetup is a free meetup, usually the first Monday of each month at one of our local libraries: Lake Forest Park, Shoreline or Kenmore. 

People of all levels of interest and experience are encouraged to attend. 

There is always time for introductions and discussions. 

Skip the traffic and join with your fellow north-enders once a month for interesting presentations and discussions.

Group site:

For the time being all North City Tech Meetups will be online using Zoom.


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