Apollo Guidance Computer Activities

AGC Conference 3 - Intermetrics and Draper Labs

Apollo Guidance Computer History Project

Third conference

November 30, 2001

From left: Ed Duggan, Cline Frasier, Bard Turner, Dave Bates, and Jack Poundstone.

Intermetrics and Draper Labs

SANDY BROWN: The Intermetrics story seems interesting. Could someone talk a little bit more about that?

ELDON HALL: John Miller’s still around.

JACK POUNDSTONE: Who knows that best?

DAVE 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. Copps went there and Flanders went there and I came to a conclusion; "You got a bunch of marketing managers right here," I said, "All you need is a marketing plan. What you got and where you want to go and how you going to get there? And to do that is to put together a marketing plan." Now, I did that with him, and he paid me off by taking me out for dinner. But he wanted to go to Joe Tecci’s, which he couldn’t get into so I had to go through the back door to get him in. But anyway he left and he started that company as a spinoff and did very well with it. And all his people did well

ELDON HALL: Yes, he became a millionaire while the rest of us were paupers.

JACK POUNDSTONE: Does Intermetrics still exist?

DAVE BATES: No. He sold it to somebody. And now he just raises orchids. Certainly Alonso and Miller were in.

JACK POUNDSTONE: I’m sure there's more, but I can’t think of them.

ELDON HALL: Well, Al Hopkins joined the company. He was the one who got in trouble with Ed Driscoll because he was leaving to go to a company and supposedly taking proprietary information with him.

ED DUGGAN: That's why you leave. (laughter)

ELDON HALL: Especially that was Draper’s design. You learn something and then you leave and you go do it.

ED DUGGAN: That's another aspect of the Draper organization that you may want to take note of, and that is that Doc always had the attitude that you come up with the idea and execute it within, have the capability to do it yourself. And that went to gyros initially. But the capability to actually mechanize what it is you thought up, which means you made that transition and test it and use it. It was not just a little research lab that had solutions to problems. You actually had the machining capabilities to extraordinary degrees, particularly in gyro technology. If you brought a program into Draper, at least in the initial stages, and it was significant, you got to run it.

DAVE BATES: That's how Trageser got the job

ED DUGGAN: Yes, but that was the policy too. Trageser and the people that were with him were key in bringing that up.

DAVE BATES: But you're talking about the Apollo computer here. If you ever got an organization chart from Draper Lab or from the instrumentation laboratory, it had the gyro, the IMU in the middle, and over in the periphery was the computer. Now, if you go in from Raytheon, the computer was in the middle. And everything else was in the periphery.

ED DUGGAN: They also had that tree and Draper was in South America.

DAVE BATES: I asked him once, I said, "You know, where is your organization chart?" and he picks up the phone book. And he says, "That's it."

ED DUGGAN: He always gave you titles that were similar to the academic structure and if you got promoted enough, you could have a title a foot long, deputy deputy assistant …

DAVE BATES: He also had a funny thing about program managers and technical directors. I remember when Fertig went in there and he had a problem with Porter. And Fertig says to Doc, "I want to be the program manager." He says, "You don’t want to be the 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 his own way." So Doc says, "No, you got to be the technical director." So Fertig was out.

ED DUGGAN: It was an interesting organization.

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