Space tech vs smart tech: how do they stack up?

Posted 05/08/2019 by E.ON

Technology has come a long way since man landed on the moon 50 years ago. For instance, smart meters can track how much energy you're using and send information direct to your supplier for you, saving you both time and hassle.

But how does the smart tech of today compare to the technology of the past - specifically that used aboard Apollo 11?

The computing power we carry around in our pockets today would have been inconceivable to the astronauts of Apollo 11, who relied on technology designed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) called Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC).

According to ZME Science, the computing power of the AGC wasn't even as smart as the clocks found on today's smartphones. In fact, a smart phone has more computing power in it than the whole of NASA had when it managed to land Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon.

But, as Popular Mechanics points out, the achievements of the Apollo 11 computers should not be diminished by these comparisons as, for the time, they were seriously advanced and a decade ahead of any other computers around then. The computing power they had, which came from a bank of four computers working together, wasn't seen again until almost a decade later when Apple launched its Apple II version of a desktop PC.

And, unlike many modern computers and smartphones, the AGC was also crash-proof and wouldn't freeze up or suddenly start performing updates - a crucial point when navigating astronauts through space, rather than posting selfies on social media.

The achievements of the Apollo 11 team half a decade ago continue to inspire us today. While we may not see anything quite on the scale of that achievement again, there are tonnes of fantastic innovations, like smart meters, solar panels, and air source heat pumps that are available today and which are being continually developed and improved; technologies that may not take us to moon - but can help make everyday life easier.

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