The seamstresses threaded their needles through one magnetic core, then looped the copper wire around the next core before routing it into another. And another.
They repeated this task thousands of times. They weren't weaving fabric; rather, they were building software. Each loop had one of two meanings; strung together, the twists formed binary language: 10110101.
Raytheon recruited women from the nearby Massachusetts mills for their exquisite manual dexterity, perfect for weaving the copper code that ran the guidance computers for the Apollo space missions of the 1960s and 1970s. It was one of the creative ways Raytheon helped to safely deliver mankind’s biggest leap.
“It was actually like a needle-and-thread kind of an operation,” said Robert Zagrodnick, a former program manager for the Apollo Guidance Computer, which was built by Raytheon. “And they had manufacturing aids to help decide exactly where to thread it and that kind of thing, because they were threading the ones and zeroes for the program.”