The document date is illegible.
Upthread: Spacecraft Computer Program Development Newsletter (Feb 27, 1967)
Downthread: MIT can handle spacecraft computer program development for both Apollo and AAP to their mutual advantage (May 19, 1967)
See listAPR 18 196767-FM1-33FM/Deputy ChiefMIT’s digital computer facilities are still a problem
On April 12 at MIT we spent almost the whole morning discussing justifi- cation for and status of the IBM 360/75 computer installation they use for spacecraft computer program development. As of today, we haven't really resolved the issue of whether or not we should retain that computer at MIT. On the other hand, I think the exercise was fruitful in that we all – MIT and MSC – have a much better understanding of the situation.
Briefly, the situation is something like this. Back in November and Decem- ber we were faced with the problem of producing command module and LM programs for the AS-258 mission to be flown in August 1967. This was going to put heavy demands on the MIT digital computer facility, which consists of two Honeywell 1800 computers. At the same time it was easy to see that during the first two or three months of 1967 that facility would be entirely saturated with work on the AS-206 unmanned LM mission which, flying sooner, necessarily had higher priority. At that time the only apparent thing we could do was to get their IBM 360/75 operational at the earliest possible date, which at that time appeared to be in February of 1967. As it turned out, in spite of our very best, intense efforts, the 360/75 has not become an operational facility even today, and our current estimate is that it probably will not be carrying any appreciable load until August or Septem- ber. The programming work remaining to be done to make it operational is to finish development of the MAC compiler and to debug the IBM supplied programming systems. Although MIT does not admit it, I suspect that there are also significant hardware problems in the IBM installation which require fixing.
Now that all of the manned missions have slipped to a point where spacecraft computer programs are no longer pacing, there is no question in my mind that the two Honeywell 1800 computers at MIT can carry the entire load at MIT for the foreseeable future – say through calendar year 1968. In other words, we have no real need for the IBM 360/75 unless it offers us some significant advantage. It is MIT's position that the IBM 360/75 does not cost much more than the Honeywell 1800's over the period from now until the end of 1968 but that it does offer growth potential. Thus they feel that it is to our mutual advantage that they retain the IBM 360/75 and phase out the Honey- well's as soon as that is practical. Their phaseout plan is optimistic, in that, since they propose to remove a Honeywell 1800 around the first of August, which I feel is at least three or four months too soon. And it was brought out in our discussion that the second Honeywell 1800 will be re- tained until postflight analysis of the AS-502 mission is completed. There- fore, the cost of phasing over to the IBM 360/75 is more expensive than getting rid of it, but something that must be considered is that the Honey- well 1800's must be phased out someday. Based on all this, and an MIT moral factor, CAD's Assistant Division Chief, Ralph Everett, recommended, and I agreed, that we should probably allow MIT to proceed on the course they have started.
But this thing still bugs me, so I got ahold of the Honeywell representative to explain the over-all situation. He is now in the process of checking with his company to see if it is possible to obtain a significant cost re- duction on the MIT Honeywell 1800 computers assuming that they would be retained until the second half of calendar year '68, operating in a three shift, seven day a week schedule. At that time, consideration would be given to phasing in one of their Honeywell 8200 computers, which by that time should have proven itself truly operational in the field. In addition to saving money, this approach permits us to take advantage of the compati- bility of all the programs in use at MIT on the Honeywell 1800 plus avoid- ing having to debug the over-all system like we are going through now on the IBM facility. Part of this plan, of course, would be to remove the IBM 360/75 from MIT at the earliest possible date and to stop all effort on the programming for that facility which has forced MIT to divide its attention and efforts in order to have programs which will operate on both the Honey- well 1800's and the IBM 360/75. This division of effort is very distressing since very high level talent is required and work on the Honeywell 1800 pro- grams will be going down the drain if we switch to the IBM 360/75. Going to a Honeywell 8200 means all effort could be concentrated on Honeywell 1800 programs which will be compatible with that machine.
Our next decision point is when the Honeywell representative reports back to Ralph Everett and me on the result of his Honeywell 1800 rental reduc- tion mission. If those results are favorable, we will investigate with him the cost of a Honeywell 8200 computer in the configuration needed by MIT. If, as I hope, this is attractive in terms of both cost and growth potential, we will examine with MIT the advantages and disadvantages of their current approach versus the Honeywell approach.