Electro-mechanical analogue computer, Missile Guidance Computer, metal / plastic / insulation, made by the E-P Division of the Bendix Corporation, United States of America, 1960s
This object is part of a collection relating to the history and development of calculating devices assembled by Assoc Professor Allan Bromley of Sydney University, comprising mathematical instruments, slide-rules, mechanical and electronic calculators, electronic analogue computers, computer components, kit computers, education computers, and associated ephemera.
Allan Bromley was a lecturer and researcher at the University of Sydney Basser Department of Computer Science from 1978 until his untimely death in August 2002. He specialised in Computer Architecture, Computer Logic and in particular the History of Computing. He was regarded as the world authority on Charles Babbage's Calculating Engines (instigating the building of the Difference Engine No.2 at the Science Museum London) and the Antikythera Mechanism and had extensive knowledge of calculators, analogue computers, logic, stereopsis, totalisators, clocks and time keeping and mechanical engineering.
The electro-mechanical analogue computer was manufactured by the E-P Division of the Bendix Corporation, United States of America, 1960s.
Contract DA-30-069-AMC-6(Z), Army Missile Command, Pershing Missile guidance Corp. Part Number 10586500-39, Mod. 4G&C, Serial No. 303. Weight 56.8 (lbs?).
Early feasibility studies of a new long range missile system were begun soon after 1956. Within the resulting Pershing programme the Army developed a 2-stage solid fuel missile with a range of 800 miles, named after General 'Black Jack' Pershing. The development contract was given to Martin Marietta Aerospace, Orlando Division in Florida. The first deployment of Pershing I took place in 1963, and an improved model started to replace it from 1969. A further improved model, Pershing II was first deployed in 1983. The increased range and pinpoint accuracy of the Pershing II were major factors influencing the Soviet Union's decision to seek the Treaty on Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, in which the USA and the USSR agreed to eliminate an entire class of nuclear missiles.
An inertial guidance system controls movement of the fins to steer the missile.
To measure direction, this system uses three on-board gyroscopes, placed so they form 90 degrees angles with each others. Changes in speed and direction are measured by accelerometers. A computer uses this information to calculate the missile's position and guide it on its course. Each gyroscope is supported by gimbals so it stays in position as the vehicle rolls, pitches or turns. The equipment is housed in a cast metal box, military green, mechanical and electrical components. It uses discrete components, no integrated circuits.