After Hours

Geek Trivia: The Quibble of the Week for Sept. 2, 2008

This week's quibble comes from the Aug. 26, 2008 edition of Geek Trivia, "Cast to the 404 winds." TechRepublic member frankobrien3764 laid out a litany of errors regarding Jay Garmon's analysis of the Apollo Guidance Computer.

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from our assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

This week's quibble comes from the Aug. 26, 2008 edition of Geek Trivia, "Cast to the 404 winds." TechRepublic member frankobrien3764 laid out a litany of errors regarding my analysis of the Apollo Guidance Computer:

"The system was 16 bit, but that was including a parity bit. That's like saying my Wintel server is a nine bit machine. Memory was 2K of 15 bit words, 36K of ROM. Most importantly, the computer didn't malfunction, it was getting a hot I/O from a radar interface (a design flaw, not a procedural problem), and the errors were saying that it ran out of available processor blocks, not buffers (the computer had no buffers). There was no 15% spare memory capacity in the computer, most missions flew with something like 5 or 10 free words of storage. Hope this helps!"

By the way, frankobrien3764 is actually "Frank O'Brien, author, The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation (Springer-Praxis, mid-2009 publishing date)."

Thanks for clearing up those myriad details, and keep those quibbles coming!

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About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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