We all felt that when you get to that point and you are going to land on the moon, you have to have your hands on the stick. I like computers and I believe in computers, but it ain't going to land me on the moon. I'm going to do that. If something gets screwed up then it is going to be me, it isn't going to be the computer... You are probably fooling yourself because you are still going through the computer. The stick that you move goes through the computer to fire the thrusters, which is not too different from the computer doing that itself. You feel different, though. —David Scott, ''The Apollo Guidance Computer: A User's View''
Apollo 11 accomplished a dramatic first that was difficult to replicate, both in technical suspense and public response. Still, it was only the beginning of the program, the first of six landings. Nor was it alone in raising new tensions and synergies between human and machine. Throughout the social-technical system that was Apollo, skill, experience, and risk migrated across human and machine boundaries. The social and the technical traded off, complemented each other, made up for each other's weaknesses. In the real-time pressure of a lunar landing, an extensive social network of engineers focused on two men and a computer in an air-conditioned bubble, sitting on top of a rocket engine with a telescope and a control stick.
Was this article helpful?