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Retrotechtacular: Amiga Pips PC for Mission-Critical Computing at NASA

In 1986, a group of NASA engineers faced difficult choices in solving data processing problems. Either continue to tolerate the performance degradation of your PC architecture or raise money for exotic workstations. Paradoxically, Commodore Amiga, paradoxically, It didn’t cost enough.. Oh, and Apple didn’t want anything to do with it.

NASA’s Hangar AE, soaked in history, is a hub for launch rocket telemetry and other mission communications, primarily before its launch at Cape Canaveral. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Hangar AE supported NASA rockets of all shapes and sizes, from the evolution of Atlas-Centaur to the powerful Titan family. It also supported user data from the Space Shuttle program. Telemetry from these missions was processed by Hangar AE and sent worldwide to other participating space agencies before being sent to other NASA Boffins.

Born from decades of astronomical financing, the 1980s were all about belting, and NASA needed a budget solution that didn’t compromise the safety of its mission. The Commodore Amiga turned out to be the right choice for handling launch rocket telemetry. And it wasn’t until that time that the Amiga Atlanta group’s cameras were allowed to shoot inside the Hangar AE.

The video below was shot in 1998, more than 10 years after the first Amiga computer was installed on Hangar AE. It’s fascinating (and not surprising) to hear that the Apple Macintosh is the first choice for computing hardware. However, because it was a closed system, engineers couldn’t access the Macintosh at the required level and couldn’t develop the custom hardware needed to support operations. In contrast, Commodore was willing to send a huge amount of documentation to NASA to help them. How nice!

Gary Jones, then NASA’s principal system engineer, continues that Amiga was an unpopular choice for his employer. “They want us to buy a PC and run Windows 95 and NT. They keep trying to tell them that it’s not fast enough, so they buy DEC Alpha. I’m telling them to buy. We tell them it’s too expensive. They don’t like Amiga. It doesn’t cost enough. “Wow.

The video will take place during a mission to STS-89 and the Mir Space Station. Some of it seems to have been lost over time, Old blog posts fill some knowledge gapsWorth a look, it’s retro and amazing in itself.These machines were reportedly in use by 2006, with one Was actually for sale Not long ago.

In other words, there is a jingle that says, “Only Amiga makes it possible.”

[Thanks to JohnU for this great retro computing tip!]

[Pictures from Amiga Atlanta/Mike Ellenberg]

Retrotechtacular: Amiga Pips PC for Mission-Critical Computing at NASA

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