Just What Do You Think You're Doing, Dave?

How Apollo's astronauts learned to work with--and around--their computers

2 min read

In 1961, the average rocket-borne computer ran on average for 15 hours before an electronics ­failure crashed it. That ­dismal ­performance record didn’t matter much to the ­military, whose suborbital ­missiles required only ­minutes of computer on-time. But a manned moon shot required that computers run 1500 hours between failures.

As David Mindell points out in Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight , NASA’s project managers not only met that 1500-hour goal but greatly overshot it. When Neil Armstrong and his compatriots strode on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972, the total mean time between ­failures of the onboard computers turned out to be closer to 50 000 hours.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Vertical
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton
Pink

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}