Saturn V Launch Vehicle Digital Computer, IBM Part Number 6109030

Saturn V Computer Ring
"Saturn V Computer Ring"

Did you know that IBM designed the Saturn V Launch Vehicle Digital Computer in the 1960th ? I didn’t until my wife and I stopped at Huntsville, Alabama, on our 4-week-trip through the South States of USA, where the U.S. Space and Rocket Center is located which we visited.

IBM Team responsible for the Saturn V Instrument Unit
"IBM Team responsible for the Saturn V Instrument Unit"

IBM actually had been assigned the overall responsibility to design the Saturn V Instrument Unit and I have posted here a picture of the IBM team working on that: impressive how many people we assigned to a single project these days !

When NASA designed the Saturn V they discussed whether launch and flight of this huge rocket should be controlled by the astronauts or automatically. They came to the conclusion that stress during launch due to vibrations and noise during takeoff whould be too much for human beings so that they better design some instrument unit controlling the launch phase of Apollo missions.

This turned out to be a wise decision when the rocket was hit by electrical discharges during takeoff of Apollo 12. The Command Module where the astronauts are sitting went offline but Saturn V continued its flight without any major impacts, under control by the Instrument Unit. Later on astronauts were able to bring the Command Unit back online.

This wikipedia article about the Launch Vehicle Digital Computer (LVDC) has a link to a pdf copy of the IBM maintenance instructions where I found the IBM part number mentioned in the title of this posting.