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NASA's Humble Beginnings

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was founded in 29th July, 1958 in United States by president Dwight Eisenhower, Keith Glennan and Hugh L. Dryden, NASA's first administrator and deputy administrator respectively. In July 1958, Eisenhower had signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating the agency, which opened for business on October.

At first Nasa used human computers. These were people who were "supposed to be following fixed rules and has no authority to deviate from them in any detail." Teams of people, often women, from the late nineteenth century onwards, were used to undertake long and often tedious calculations. The picture above is Mrs Shakuntala Devi (4 November 1929 – 21 April 2013) who was an Indian mathematician, writer and mental calculator, popularly known as the "Human Computer". Her talent earned her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records.

NASA and IBM teams used the old computer system downtown until about November 1960, when the first of Mercury's new 7090 mainframe computers were ready for use at Goddard Space Flight Center. The 7094 was first introduced in January 1962, according to IBM (International Buisiness Machines Corporation). IBM won a contract with NASA for the space program's Gemini-Apollo Real-Time Computer Complex, and 7094 mainframes were used for software development, according to an official history of the space program from NASA.

The computers were introduced in October of 1969, JPL installed its first System 360/75, a gift from the Manned Spacecraft Center, where it was considered surplus. A second machine arrived in April 1970, this one was a left over from the demise of NASA's Electronics Research Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.