Scrap dealer finds Apollo-era NASA computers in dead engineer’s basement
Plus hundreds of mystery tapes from Pioneer and Helios probe missions
A pair of Apollo-era NASA computers and hundreds of mysterious tape reels have been discovered in a deceased engineer’s basement in Pittsburgh, according to a NASA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Most of the tapes are unmarked, but the majority of the rest appear to be instrumentation reels for Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, NASA’s fly-by missions to Jupiter and Saturn.
The two computers are so heavy that a crane was likely used to move the machines, the report concluded.
Second, I remember reading that a lot of the original data tapes from the Pioneer missions are AWOL. I guess we could hope against hope that some of them are, for some reason…in this guy’s basement…
The archivist’s final recommendation: Destroy the tapes. “There is no evidence that suggests this material is historically significant… I recommend disposal through the immediate destruction of all magnetic tapes.”
…oh. We’re not going to try to bake them and recover what we can?
Why don’t they just open-source it? There’s got to be plenty of geeky engineers across the world who are willing to go there and try to pull any info off the tapes before they’re destroyed. Let people who want to help volunteer on their own dime so NASA doesn’t have to foot the bill of flying them in, and see if they can recover data and post it to the internet.