Gov. & the machine(s) we love

Noel Chiappa jnc at
Sat Oct 31 13:37:38 CDT 2015

    > From: Paul Koning

    > Supposedly some of the impetus for integrated circuits came from the
    > space program -- but I think the first ones (at TI) predate that.

"Digital Apollo" (pg. 125) says that Fairchild was first to ship
commercially, in 1961 ("Journey to the Moon" puts it in the fall, pg. 19),
followed by TI and Signetics.

In '62, the Instrumentation Labs produced a prototype AGC using Fairchild ICs
(in the To-47 round can - they went to the flat packs in a later version); in
November, NASA OK'd their use in the flight computers (replacing discrete
transistors). (The Minuteman was also using ICs, but 20 different custom
designs - the AGC used all standard NOR gate packages.)

In '63, Apollo was using 60% of the ICs produced in the US (pg. 127), both
for flight computers, and ground test equipment. "Journey" (pg. 19) says they
were the largest consumers of ICs from '61 to '65. Their insistance on
quality really helped raise the companies' game (pg. 133); not sure if this
also increased yield (and thus lowered costs).

Block I (which flew on Apollo's AS-201, 4 and 6; 5, and 7 on used Block II -
finally found it, pg. 143) used the round metal cans, Block II used the flat
packs; NASA had approved the switch to flat packs for the Block II in
December, '63.

Both TI and Fairchild had stopped producing the chips Apollo needed before
the program ended (they had become obsolete); luckily for Apollo, Philco
kept their production line open. "Journey" has a large section on the
government's influence on early chip production, see pp. 19-23.


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