Fun with the Apollo Guidance Computer

There I was, pursuing my interest in retrocomputing and reading a good book on the Apollo Guidance Computer, an unavowed exemplar of the new genre of platform studies, and I idly wondered, “Did anyone ever write an AGC emulator?”

Oh, man, did they. Versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Fan videos and hardware workalikes. Canned moon missions. Poster-size PDFs explaining every detail in Italian. Instructions on how to make the Apollo Guidance Computer your desktop clock. (As famous astronaut Jar-Jar Binks once said, “How rude!”)

Please, take one of the highest achievements of the American space program and do what you will with it. It’s the spirit of making and open source.


Well, I did it. I installed the emulator, punched in the right commands, and made the Apollo Guidance Computer my bitc… er, my desk clock.

Because the AGC accepts commands in verb/noun combinations, an interactive fiction “GET LAMP”-style connection is vaguely gesturing at me. Script the AGC with ZIL? Port the emulator to Inform for an “abuse of the Z-Machine”? The possibilities are endless, if somewhat implausible and, as I say, vague.


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