WASHINGTON-We’ve all been there: you’re working on something important, your PC crashes, and you lose all your progress. Such a failure was not an option during the Apollo missions, the first time ever that a computer was entrusted with handling flight control and life support systems -- and therefore the lives of the astronauts on board.

Despite an infamous false alarm during lunar descent that sent Commander Neil Armstrong’s heart rate racing, it was a resounding success that laid the groundwork for everything from modern avionics to multitasking operating systems.

Here are some of the ways the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), millions of times less powerful than a 2019 smartphone, shaped the world we live in today:

Microchip revolution

Integrated circuits, or microchips, were a necessary part of the miniaturization process that allowed computers to be placed on board spacecraft, in contrast to the giant, power-hungry vacuum tube technology that came before

Integrated circuits, or microchips, were a necessary part of the miniaturization process that allowed computers to be placed on board spacecraft, in contrast to the giant, power-hungry vacuum tube technology that came before. The credit for their invention goes to Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments, and Robert Noyce, who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor and later Intel in Mountain View, California.