Apollo Guidance Computer Activities

AGC - Conference 1: Dave Hoag's introduction

Apollo Guidance Computer History Project

First conference

July 27, 2001 

Dave Hoag's introduction

DAVE HOAG: I'm Dave Hoag.  You [Joe Gavin] mentioned about the arrogance of Grumman and pussycat North American, and I shared that. You were the devil for a while, and you mentioned, we're still friends. I was your competition.

I started at the Instrumentation Lab in '46 in gunfire control, did a little bit of missile fire control against aircraft, and moved on to be the technical director for the Apollo, at least Apollo Mark I, the old concept of Apollo, and part of Mark II. When the call came for many of the people who had worked on Apollo, including Dan Lickly for instance -- 

CLINE FRASIER: Polaris you mean? 

DAVE HOAG: You see, also I'm old. (Laughter) A technical director for Polaris, changed. Memories go, as I say.

When the decision came for the lab to work on Apollo, then half of the team that did that came from the Polaris people, and I guess the other half came from some of the people that were working on some of the FAS programs and the Mars probe and so forth.

I started as a technical director for Apollo, and when Milt Trageser  was reassigned, I became program manager and technical director. When that program finished as far as the lab was concerned, when it changed over to Draper lab, I led a group, advanced systems department group at the Draper lab. Did many things on space based laser weapons, Star Wars types of things.

I was very much skeptical of the whole question, and I'm skeptical now, of what's going on with respect to missile defense; very skeptical. When people talk about it and say it's really important to protect the nation, I suppose you're a small country and you wanted to damage us. All you'd have to do is fly in with your steamer trunk and put your nuclear weapon somewhere where they don't know where it is, and then threaten you. That's where the problem is. It's not, I think, a ballistic missile attack from a third nation.

Then since I retired from the laboratory, I've been a consultant, trying to make myself useful. Sometimes I think I have. I'll charge for it then, but otherwise I don't. (Laughter)

About the Apollo computer, I shared with Joe, I don't know too much is working. I will say this. A lot of people compare the Apollo computer to what you have in your pocket right now. And that is kind of unfair in a large sense, because if you think of the Apollo computer, it did real time processing to many, many physical interfaces around the spacecraft, many; probably all 50 interfaces -- 

ELDON HALL: Much more than that. 

DAVE HOAG: Okay, lots more interfaces than that. So it was -- 

ELDON HALL: About three times that many. 

DAVE HOAG: Okay. It was, it stayed unique for some years, I guess after that, because of that.

JOE GAVIN: Your memory increased several times, as I recall. 

DAVE HOAG: The point being that from the new time, a little bit ahead of time on that, there was a point where I think it was Cline who said why not do the autopilots in the computer.

CLINE FRASIER: That's right, yes. 

DAVE HOAG: A tremendous decision. I think it was very valuable because the advantage of a digital autopilot was you could program games. You could do all sorts of things that you couldn't do conveniently in analog computer, and it shared the reliability of a digital computer and its speed and performance. 

So I think that's all I'll say about the computer right now. I tend to -- these meetings are going to be fun, and I'll come to them.

Much of what I know about Apollo, almost all I know about Apollo, you already have in this history document. The emphasis of this document was, in my mind, good lord, an awful lot of good people worked, tremendous people worked and contributed. It was a wonderful affair. I was just at the right place at the right time to be in some focal point on that, but boy, the work was a lot of people.

And that was my intent of writing that thing. And so having to introduce Cline Frasier for something -- he's one of my heroes -- go ahead Cline.

Cline Frasier's introduction

site last updated 12-08-2002 by Alexander Brown