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Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight Hardcover – April 4, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0262134972 ISBN-10: 0262134977

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Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight + The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration) + Saturn V Flight Manual
Price for all three: $79.82

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (April 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262134977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262134972
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[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." -- coolhunting.com



" Digital Apollo succeeds in providing an inside track to one of the most difficult technological challenges of the 20th century." -- James Thorne, Cool Hunting



"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



" 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

(Edgar Mitchell)

"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

(Howard E. McCurdy)

"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

(Charles Simonyi)

" 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

(Bob Seamans)

"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 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



" 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



"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



"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

Review

"[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." -- coolhunting.com



" Digital Apollo succeeds in providing an inside track to one of the most difficult technological challenges of the 20th century." -- James Thorne, Cool Hunting



"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



" 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

(Edgar Mitchell )

"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

(Howard E. McCurdy )

"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

(Charles Simonyi )

" 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

(Bob Seamans )

"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 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



" 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



"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

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It is very detailed yet flows well, and is narrative enough to not feel like a dry treatise.
Amazon Customer
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning the history of digital technology used in reaching the moon.
typo_kign
If you liked "Journey to the Moon: The History of the Apollo Guidance Computer" then you'll like this.
Neil S. Rieck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Neil S. Rieck on May 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While this book dwells more on computers than astronauts, it contains details from the actual moon landings that I've never seen published elsewhere. Despite contrary opinions by the astonauts, this book has convinced me that a 100% all-human landing (without computers) was not technically possible. If you liked "Journey to the Moon: The History of the Apollo Guidance Computer" then you'll like this.

p.s. This book describes the operation of a zero-weight low-tech technology known as the LPD (landing point designator) which is comprised of colored markings on the commander's window. One of the AGC display lines tells the commander which lines to look through.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Cicero on September 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Thankfully the publisher used silky cream paper to print this book. Both your hands and your brain are pampered. Clear line illustration inside with a fantastic cover graphic, this book rewards the touch of your hand by taking you on a magic carpet ride through the inner workings of developing the guidance and navigation systems for the moon shot. It is the "Soul of the New Machine" for the Apollo program.

It's a fascinating account of how the guidance computer and the human astronaut (and flight controllers) struggled to rely on each other for the landing on the moon. The love-hate emotions of the computer-astronaut interface are felt throughout the book. Although there is no shortage of technical detail, it all seems essential to the narrative. Initially, it seems as if the book is losing focus, but soon the connections become clear: the book reads like a detective novel.

If you have read two or more books on the space program, this should be your next purchase. Once you have read one Apollo book, there is a lot of repetition - not here. It provides many details the others lack.

A secondary audience for this book is anyone interested in IT project management. This book provides a case study on complex, mission-critical project management. Much to be learned. This should be required ready for engineering majors.

At under $20, this book will set off fireworks in the pleasure centers neurons.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rich Reinert on December 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Just to be clear, I have a degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, obtained in the year 1968, when astronauts first reached the moon. I have made a career in aerospace ever since. With this background I found the book to be fascinating and read it from cover to cover in about 2 days. physically the book is of extremely high quality and very well produced. A pleasure to hold. The book is very well written, and the technical discussions are comprehensive, accurate and enlightening. Despite a career long informal study of the Apollo Program, I learned a lot. (such as what really happened during the Apollo 11 descent and landing). Figures and tables are well chosen and well presented thoughout. The descriptions of the people involved are interesting and insightful. They ring true. I'd recommend this to anyone with a backgound in computers interested in Apollo, and anyone with a backgound in space systems interested in computers.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Callen on August 14, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a space geek, and I found the material in the bok fascinating. I worked for a time at Intermetrics, the software company founded by some of the people mentioned in the book as denizens of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, which also added interest for me.

BUT - the Kindle edition is dreadful! A number of the figures have disappeared (only the captions appear), and the figures that ARE there are nearly unviewable (at least on my 1st generation Kindle). Do yourself a favor and buy the physical artifact.
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Format: Hardcover
"Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight" by David A. Mindell is an excellent work of history and a benchmark in the study of Project Apollo. It will become a starting point for all future work on the technology of this important space effort. The landscape of Apollo is littered with general histories, memoirs, and run-of-the mill popular accounts, but outstanding historical writing on the subject is much less common.

In the past most historians have focused on one of five major areas relative to Apollo. These include the foreign policy and public policy antecedents of Apollo and its immediate ramifications, the flights of the astronauts, the history of lunar science, the social and cultural history of the Moon landings, and the evolution of space technology. It is in this last category that this work makes an important contribution. While most of the prior work on the history of Apollo technology has been internalist in focus and undertaken by those mesmerized by the "nuts and bolts" story without much attention to the wider context, Mindell's account embraces a larger vision of how Apollo fit into the human/machine relationship for flight vehicles. He argues for, and then succeeds in demonstrating, a new research agenda in the history of human spaceflight that extends beyond the virtual catechism of retelling of a specific myth in the conventional story. He shows how historians might move beyond the "fetish for the artifact" that has dominated most of the historiography of Apollo.

Mindell's most significant contribution is to highlight the debate that has raged since the origins of spaceflight between the pilot/astronauts and the aerospace engineers over the degree of control held by each group in human-rated spacecraft.
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