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From the Moon to the Scrap Heap and Back

  1. Nov 17, 2016 #1
    Greetings all
    In the mid 1960s Raytheon developed the first microcomputer chip ICs and Rope Memory that would get us to the moon. Apparently within a mere 10 years these historic small steps that were more than a decade ahead of their time and of considerable historic value were auctioned off as scrap metal. A few have been recovered and analyzed and the data is intact after 50 years of abuse. Sound interesting? Check this out

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2016 #2


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    Rope memory is an extremely robust storage medium. As long as you don't break any of the wires or lose any of the cores you are good to go. Unfortunately it is rather low density and very difficult to produce and the data is fixed at manufacture.

    Here is a commercialized variation of it:

  4. Nov 18, 2016 #3
    Thanks for that, rbelli1, if you follow the youtube links a few of the included clips from raytheon show the modules manufacturing process. It's quite fascinating to me, and, yes, production was really difficult. Indeed, it was only a first small step and rendered fairly quickly obsolete with good reason. In this case the longevity was certainly enhanced by immense investment of cash into exotic materials and construction designed to withstand extreme temperatures, vibration and radiation. Some of the clips involve hardware inspection, including XRay examination and others the software extraction which is to be made public. Quite the find as well as a worthy project. :)
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