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The Apollo 11 code that took man to the moon lands on GitHub

The source code from the Apollo 11 guidance computer has been placed on the programming website GitHub and made available to the public.

The pages, which were painstakingly put together from original hand-written records, shows the thousands of lines of code that went into inventing the Apollo Guidance Computer back in the mid 1960s.

It has been uploaded to GitHub by the Chris Garry, a former NASA intern, allowing software engineers to go digging around within one of the landmark technological achievements of the 20th century.

Some of the sharp-eyed members of Reddit’s r/programming community have found the MIT software engineers in charge of the project ensured future generations of programmers would at least be entertained by the code.

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Indeed one of the sections is called BURN_BABY_BURN—MASTER_IGNITION_ROUTINE.s, a title explained within the useful reference notes uploaded to GitHub.

“It traces back to 1965 and the Los Angeles riots,” the notes explain, “and was inspired by disc jockey extraordinaire and radio station owner Magnificent Montague. Magnificent Montague used the phrase “Burn, baby! BURN!” when spinning the hottest new records. Magnificent Montague was the charismatic voice of soul music in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.”

As Quartz.com points out, the LUNAR_LANDING_GUIDANCE_EQUATIONS.s section features an explanation entitled “Temporary, I hope, hope hope,” which made it into the final code, presumably without upsetting the operation too much.

Another piece of code instructs the astronaut to “crank the silly thing around,” seemingly referring to a request to re-position the antenna for the landing radar.

One section even includes a quote from Shakespeare himself; Henry 6, Act 2, Scene 4 to be precise:

“It will be proved to thy face that thou hast men about thee that usually talk of a noun and a verb, and such abominable words as no Christian ear can endure to hear.”

According to Reddit user Baygo20, this is a reference to the use of predetermined  two-digit numbers to replace certain nouns and verbs.

If you’re interesting in exploring the code for yourself, you can head on over to GitHub and read through the hundreds upon hundreds of pages worth of hand transcribed content.

Some programmers are already suggesting changes and fixes!

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