Saturday, January 02, 2010

More on the rockets that launched the microcomputer revolution

In this month's edition of the Citizen Scientist, Forrest Mims III provides more details about his early rocket experiments in Vietnam in 1967.  His experiments sound impressive and the stories about his encounters with MPs and helicopter gun ships are fascinating. Here's an excerpt:
Thereafter the military took more interest in my experiments with rockets and infrared travel aids for the blind. The night launch program was placed on hold, and on 16-17 June I resumed flights from a large field by the main gate at Tan Son Nhut and the race track, this time with a rocket equipped with a sun-tracking guidance system and a rocket that emitted pulses of ram air in response to radio signals controlled by holes punched in the tape of a modified, compact reel-to-reel recorder.

Photo courtesy of the USAF (and Forrest).

Cool stuff!  Looks like an Estes Big Bertha was his testbed.

Oh, yeah, then there's the whole deal about his rocket flashers leading to MITS and the legendary Altair 8800 microcomputer.  Yeah, cool stuff!

Here are other links about the author: