MAKING CORE MEMORY
The software code for the Apollo missions was hand woven by women into "core memory ropes" that stored programs for the Apollo Guidance Computer. Using this moment of engineering history, we integrate thread and textiles with Arduino microcontrollers to create an interactive workshop where participants learn about—and experience first hand—the contributions of women to innovation and space-flight. Making Core Memory is a collaborative project from the University of Washington's Tactile and Tactical Design Lab, where I am currently a researcher leading the historical and archival work.
Our writing on this project “Making Core Memory: Design Inquiry into Gendered Legacies of Engineering and Craftwork” (PDF) was awarded best paper at the 2018 conference on Computer-Human Interaction!
Most Recent Tweet from the Quilt
The Core Memory Quilt
The Making Core Memory Quilt is an interactive textile that plays & tweets historical audio about the women who made the hardware for the Apollo moon missions. Each square of the quilt contains a unique recording of Apollo engineers, which can be "unlocked" through placing one of the completed patches from the weaving workshop on the quilt. The Making Core Memory Quilt was sewn by master quilter, Helen Remick, using fabric and conductive thread.
The Weaving Workshops
The Making Core Memory workshop engages public audiences in reimagining how technology is made. Participants are given a "patch kit" that contains a chipboard loom, yarn and plastic beads in place of the wire and ferrite cores used in core memory manufacturing. Together, we collaboratively enact the core memory weaving process—enlivening the work of the "Little Old Ladies" (as the Apollo Engineers called them) who put man on the moon.