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The Code That Took America to the Moon Was Just Published to Github

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A U.S. Apollo program Moon landing.

The flight software for the Apollo 11 space program has been uploaded to the GitHub code-sharing website.

Credit: U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Coding the flight software for the Apollo 11 space program involved programmers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Laboratory inventing "rope memory" and a special iteration of the assembly programming language that last week was uploaded to the GitHub code-sharing website.

Within hours of the upload, programmers started deconstructing the software. They concentrated especially on the code comments written by the Apollo Guidance Computer's (AGC) original programmers.

Comments consist of plain-English descriptions of what task is being executed, but some coders discovered numerous comments in the AGC code contain jokes, messages, and references unique to the 1960s. For example, one of the source code files refers to a famous disc jockey and traces back to 1965 and the Los Angeles riots.

Also embedded deep within that subroutine is a block of code book-ended by the playful statements "Hello there," and "Goodbye. Come again soon."

With the code now on GitHub, coders can suggest revisions and file issues.

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