Experimental SAGE Subsector

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The Experimental SAGE Sector (ESS, Experimental SAGE Subsector[2] until planned Sectors/Subsectors were renamed NORAD Regions, Divisions, and Sectors)[3] was a prototype Cold War Air Defense Sector for developing the Semi Automatic Ground Environment. The Lincoln Laboratory control center in a new building[4] was at Lexington, Massachusetts.

ESS Computer System[edit]

The network's Direction Center was completed in a new 1954 building[4] (Building F,[5] 42°27′37″N 071°16′04″W / 42.46028°N 71.26778°W / 42.46028; -71.26778[6]) with prototype peripherals and a single IBM XD-1 computer,[7] a successor to Lincoln Lab's Whirlwind I computer (WWI).[8] In 1955, Air Force personnel began IBM training at the Kingston, New York, prototype facility,[9] and the "4620th Air Defense Wing (experimental SAGE) was established[when?] at Lincoln Laboratory"—its "primary mission was computer programming".[10]

ESS had a capacity of 48 tracks and used a pre-SAGE ground environment in a "prototype intercept monitor room [at] MIT's Barta building" with "track situation displays, which geographically showed Air Defense Identification Zone lines and antiaircraft circles [and] each console also had a 5-inch CRT for digital information display. Audible alert signals were used, with a different signal for each symbol on a situation display."[11]

Radar stations[edit]

Initial service test models of the Burroughs AN/FST-2 Coordinate Data Transmitting Set were placed with radars at South Truro and West Bath, Maine; followed by Texas Tower#2 (TT2) in the Atlantic Ocean, which provided a "triangular pattern with overlap" radar coverage[12] (TT2 later had a connection from the XD-1 via the GE G/A Data Link Output Subsystem through North Truro Air Force Station.)[13] By August 1955, 13 radar stations were networked by the subsector,[11] e.g.:

Required by 21 November 1955 were 44 consoles: 38 for the operations floor, 3 on the computer floor for display maintenance, and 3 near the maintenance console (program checkout).[24] WWI was connected to the Experimental SAGE Subsector to verify crosstelling (collateral communication) with the ESS DC, and WWI was also used for a Ground-to-Air (G/A) experiment using a transmitter of the GE G/A Data Link Output Subsystem on Prospect Hill, Waltham, MA sending data to simulated airborne equipment at Lexington.[13] Transmissions from the WWI SAGE Evaluation (WISE) computer system[4] to XD-1 and back were without error by December 1955[4] when operational software specifications were frozen.[25] Operating procedures for the ESS external sites were complete in March 1956,[26] and

System Operation Testing[edit]

From November 15, 1955, to November 7, 1956, three System Operation Tests were conducted[11] which used voice "Ground-to-Air" communication from the Barta control room to aircraft outfitted with SAGE receivers[27] (F-86 interceptors modified to F-86L models in "Project FOLLOW-ON".)[28] Test teams included employees of Bell Telephone Laboratories, Western Electric-ADES, IBM, the RAND Corporation, and Lincoln Labs' Division 6, Division 3, & Division 2[5] (Division 6 had been created for ESS support.)[29]

The North Truro P-10 AN/FST-2 was moved to Almaden Air Force Station (M-96)c. 1957-8[28] and on August 7, 1958, control of an airborne BOMARC missile that had malfunctioned transferred from the "Experimental SAGE Sector" to a Westinghouse AN/GPA-35 Ground Environment system[where?] and the missile crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.[30] By December 31, 1958, ADC Manual 55-28 described the Model 3 SAGE System.[31]

1959 Experimental Testing[edit]

"To prove out the revised SAGE computer program" for Automatic Targeting and Battery Evaluation and ADDC-AADCP crosstelling, a "SAGE/Missile Master" test was conducted beginning in September 1959 with communications between the ESS XD-1 and Martin AN/FSG-1 Antiaircraft Defense System equipment at Fort Banks[32] planned for the CONAD Joint Control Center at Fort Heath[33]—a "SAGE ATABE Simulation Study" (SASS) was also completed 1959-60 by MITRE Corporation.[34]

External images
Military operators at ESS consoles
""Prototype intercept monitor room in the SAGE direction center in MIT's Barta building." [dated February 19, 1955 at archive[dot]today[slash]tPdY2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lemnios, William Z.; Grometstein, Alan A. (November 1, 2002). "Overview of the Lincoln Laboratory Ballistic Missile Defense Program". Lincoln Laboratory journal. 13. 
  2. ^ "Data Reliability of Three Bell A1 Magnetic Tape Recording Systems". Defense Technical Information Center. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  3. ^ North American Air Defense Command Historical Summary (Report). [specify]
  4. ^ a b c d Wildes, Karl L.; Lindgren, Nilo A. (1986) [1985]. A Century of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, 1882-1982. Retrieved 2014-08-07. The first experimental subsector was a square approximately 400 nautical miles on a side and centered at Sourh Truro, Massachusetts. A new building was constructed at Lincoln Laboratory to house the XD-1 computer [which] was received from IBM in January 
  5. ^ a b Redmond, Kent C; Smith, Thomas Malcom (2000). From Whirlwind to MITRE: The R&D Story of The SAGE Air Defense Computer (Google Books). MIT Press. Retrieved 2013-05-02. in Poughkeepsie…IBM engineers ran through a final series of tests before dismantling the XD-1 for shipment… Division 6 engineers began to ready the XD-1 for…the Experimental SAGE Subsector … eight subsystems [were] input or output channels to the XD-1.14 … preliminary testing of ESS subsystems into which the pieces of equipment were integrated… gap-filler inputs, long-range radar inputs, height-finder inputs, ground-to-air outputs, automatic teletype outputs, crosstelling, ground-to air voice radio, and wire communications. …test teams were composed of individuals from Division 6, Division 3, Division 2, Bell Labs, Western Electric-ADES, IBM, and the RAND Corporation…17 … a small-scale air defense system, Whirlwind I SAGE Evaluation (WISE)…much simpler than the 1954 Cape Cod System… WISE will be modified for crosstelling to XD-1.21  horizontal tab character in |quote= at position 108 (help)
  6. ^ "Display site". radomes.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  7. ^ "Introduction". Ed-Thelen.org. The function of the Control Center in solving the air defense problem is to combine, summarize, and display the air battle picture for the supervision of the several sectors within the division. … The typical Control Center (CC) building housing the AN/FSQ-8 Combat Control Central is a 3-story structure of the same type construction as the DC building.  (p. 7)
  8. ^ "Vigilance and Vacuum Tubes: The SAGE System 1956-63" (SAGE Talk Transcript). Ed-Thelen.org. 1998. Retrieved 2013-02-16. the Whirlwind computer, which was a digital version of the ASCA, was about five million dollars, in 1950’s [sic] dollars … For the 1949 fiscal year, MIT requested 1.5 million dollars for the Whirlwind project. … one [SAGE computer] was at Lincoln Lab, …the XD-1, and the other one was at Kingston, the XD-2. So we used both those sites for development. … The XD-1 was a simplex system…not duplex … the original vacuum-tube computers—the last one was finally taken down in 1983, still operating. … IBM got…about 500 million dollars…to build the 56 computers. 
  9. ^ Edwards, Benj (January 24, 2013). "…World's First Computer Art…". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-02-16. 
  10. ^ Schaffel, Kenneth (1991). Emerging Shield: The Air Force and the Evolution of Continental Air Defense 1945-1960. General Histories (Report). Office of Air Force History. p. 283 (pdf). ISBN 0-912799-60-9. Archived from the original (45MB pdf) on 2005-11-13. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  11. ^ a b c http://www.ll.mit.edu/about/History/capecodprototype-2.html |quote=The Operational Plan specified the equipment and personnel, the operational interactions between them, and their relationship within ADC. From that time on, work on SAGE had one overriding goal—to meet the specifications in the Operational Plan.
  12. ^ https://dome.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.3/40551/MC665_r15_M-3832.pdf?sequence=1 |quote=ADES JPO initial Burroughs service test models of FST-2…would be placed at South Truro and Bath, respectively, in order to have an operational experimental subsector containing two heavy radars by 1 April 1956 [and] the third FST-2 on Texas Tower #2 [for] a triangular pattern providing overlap. XD-1 display system External Environment of XD-1…XD-1 Direction Center
  13. ^ a b Biweekly Report For Period Ending 23 March 1956 (synopsis (MC665_r14_6M-3797.pdf)) (Report). Lincoln Laboratory Division 6. Retrieved 2014-08-02. 
  14. ^ "Display site". radomes.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  15. ^ "Pinetree Line Miscellaneous - Radar Equipment". Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  16. ^ "Download Mozilla Firefox Optimized for Yahoo". northamericanforts.com. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  17. ^ "Download Mozilla Firefox Optimized for Yahoo". northamericanforts.com. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  18. ^ https://virtualglobetrotting.com/map/abandoned-radar-site-13.kml[permanent dead link] (see also Radomes.org listing for West Bath
  19. ^ "Recent photos of Scituate (MA) Experimental SAGE Subsector (ESS) Radar Site". radomes.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  20. ^ "MITRE Radar Test Sites South Truro, Cape Cod, MA; Jug Handle Hill, West Bath, ME; Montauk LI, NY". radomes.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  21. ^ "West Bath MITRE AN/FPS-31 Radar Test Site". wikimapia.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  22. ^ "MIT Lincoln Laboratory: History: SAGE Radars (part 3)". ll.mit.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  23. ^ "Bath Independent, May 10, 1956". newspaperarchive.com. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  24. ^ "http://dome.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.3/40520/MC665_r15_M-3857.pdf?sequence=1" (PDF). dome.mit.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-18.  External link in |title= (help)
  25. ^ Johnson, Stephen B. The United States Air Force and the culture of innovation 1945-1965 (Google Books). Air Force History Support Office. p. 159. 
  26. ^ Memorandum 6M-4071 "Requirements for Operating Procedures for External Sites in the Experimental SAGE Subsector (ESS)" by M. DiCarlo-Cottone. (cited by Lincoln memo 6M-3797)
  27. ^ From Whirlwind to MITRE: The R&D Story of the SAGE Air Defense Computer. MIT Press. p. 374. ISBN 9780262264266. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  28. ^ a b Cite NORAD Historical Summary |year=1956-7 |quote=Project FOLLOW-ON provided the third improved model -the F-86L --which was an F-86D with modernized electronic gear and wings with slatted leading edges. … Project FOLLOW-ON was to make the F-86D compatible with the new [pre-SAGE] AN/GPA-37. … Eleven squadrons were meeting Project FOLLOW-ON schedules by 30 June 1957.
  29. ^ Stephen B Johnson, A.I.R.F.H.S.O.B.A.F.B.D.C. The United States Air Force and the culture of innovation 1945-1965. DIANE Publishing. p. 151. ISBN 9781428990272. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  30. ^ McMullen, R. F. (15 Feb 1980). History of Air Defense Weapons 1946–1962 (Report). ADC Historical Study No. 14. Historical Division, Office of information, HQ ADC. p. 312. 
  31. ^ http://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/data/000/461/733.xml |quote=SAGE SYSTEM DESCRIPTION, MODEL 3, ADCM 55-28 COMPLETED AND PUBLISHED
  32. ^ Cite NORAD Historical Summary |year=1958 |period=July–December
  33. ^ lst Ind, (ADC to CONAD, "Site Adaptation Plans for CONAD Joint Direction Centers," 22 Oct 1957), CINCNORAD to C/S USAF, 1 Nov 1957 [cited by the NORAD Historical Summary for 1957 July–December)
  34. ^ "http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/4298/bab9742.0001.001.pdf?sequence=5" (PDF). deepblue.lib.umich.edu. Retrieved 2015-05-18.  External link in |title= (help)