Experimental SAGE Subsector

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The Experimental Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) Sector (ESS, Experimental SAGE Subsector[1] until planned Sectors/Subsectors were renamed NORAD Regions, Divisions, and Sectors)[2] was a prototype Cold War Air Defense Sector for developing the Semi Automatic Ground Environment. The Lincoln Laboratory control center in a new building[3] was at Lexington, Massachusetts.

ESS Computer System[edit]

The network's Direction Center was completed in a new 1954 building[3] (Building F,[4] 42°27′37″N 071°16′04″W / 42.46028°N 71.26778°W / 42.46028; -71.26778[5]) with prototype peripherals and a single IBM XD-1 computer,[6] a successor to Lincoln Lab's Whirlwind I computer (WWI).[7] In 1955, Air Force personnel began IBM training at the Kingston, New York, prototype facility,[8] and the "4620th Air Defense Wing (experimental SAGE) was established[when?] at Lincoln Laboratory"—its "primary mission was computer programming".[9]

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."[10]

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[11] (TT2 later had a connection from the XD-1 via the GE G/A Data Link Output Subsystem through North Truro Air Force Station.)[12] By August 1955, 13 radar stations were networked by the subsector,[10] 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).[23] 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.[12] Transmissions from the WWI SAGE Evaluation (WISE) computer system[3] to XD-1 and back were without error by December 1955[3] when operational software specifications were frozen.[24] Operating procedures for the ESS external sites were complete in March 1956,[25] and

System Operation Testing[edit]

From November 15, 1955, to November 7, 1956, three System Operation Tests were conducted[10] which used voice "Ground-to-Air" communication from the Barta control room to aircraft outfitted with SAGE receivers[26] (F-86 interceptors modified to F-86L models in "Project FOLLOW-ON".)[27] Test teams included employees of Bell Telephone Laboratories, Western Electric-ADES, IBM, the RAND Corporation, and Lincoln Labs' Division 6, Division 3, & Division 2[4] (Division 6 had been created for ESS support.)[28]

The North Truro P-10 AN/FST-2 was moved to Almaden Air Force Station (M-96)c. 1957-8[27] 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.[29] By December 31, 1958, ADC Manual 55-28 described the Model 3 SAGE System.[30]

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

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[31] planned for the CONAD Joint Control Center at Fort Heath[32]—a "SAGE ATABE Simulation Study" (SASS) was also completed 1959-60 by MITRE Corporation.[33]


  1. ^ "Data Reliability of Three Bell A1 Magnetic Tape Recording Systems". Defense Technical Information Center. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  2. ^ North American Air Defense Command Historical Summary (Report).[specify]
  3. ^ a b c d Wildes, Karl L.; Lindgren, Nilo A. (1986) [1985]. A Century of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, 1882-1982. MIT Press. p. 299. ISBN 9780262231190. 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
  4. ^ 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. ISBN 9780262264266. 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
  5. ^ "Display site". radomes.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  6. ^ "Introduction". Ed-Thelen.org. (p. 7)
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ Edwards, Benj (January 24, 2013). "…World's First Computer Art…". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  9. ^ Schaffel, Kenneth (1991). Emerging Shield: The Air Force and the Evolution of Continental Air Defense 1945-1960 (45MB pdf). General Histories (Report). Office of Air Force History. p. 283 (pdf). ISBN 0-912799-60-9. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  10. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-11. Retrieved 2014-08-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Display site". radomes.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  14. ^ "Pinetree Line Miscellaneous - Radar Equipment". Archived from the original on 2014-08-15. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  15. ^ "Download Mozilla Firefox Optimized for Yahoo". northamericanforts.com. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  16. ^ "Download Mozilla Firefox Optimized for Yahoo". northamericanforts.com. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  17. ^ https://virtualglobetrotting.com/map/abandoned-radar-site-13.kml[permanent dead link] (see also Radomes.org listing for West Bath
  18. ^ "Recent photos of Scituate (MA) Experimental SAGE Subsector (ESS) Radar Site". radomes.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  19. ^ "MITRE Radar Test Sites South Truro, Cape Cod, MA; Jug Handle Hill, West Bath, ME; Montauk LI, NY". radomes.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  20. ^ "West Bath MITRE AN/FPS-31 Radar Test Site". wikimapia.org. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  21. ^ "MIT Lincoln Laboratory: History: SAGE Radars (part 3)". ll.mit.edu. Archived from the original on 2013-03-12. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  22. ^ "Bath Independent, May 10, 1956". newspaperarchive.com. 10 May 1956. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  23. ^ "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)
  24. ^ Johnson, Stephen B. The United States Air Force and the culture of innovation 1945-1965 (Google Books). Air Force History Support Office. p. 159. ISBN 9781428990272.
  25. ^ 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)
  26. ^ From Whirlwind to MITRE: The R&D Story of the SAGE Air Defense Computer. MIT Press. 2000-10-10. p. 374. ISBN 9780262264266. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Stephen B. Johnson. The United States Air Force and the culture of innovation 1945-1965. DIANE Publishing. p. 151. ISBN 9781428990272. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ http://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/data/000/461/733.xml |quote=SAGE SYSTEM DESCRIPTION, MODEL 3, ADCM 55-28 COMPLETED AND PUBLISHED
  31. ^ Cite NORAD Historical Summary |year=1958 |period=July–December
  32. ^ 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)
  33. ^ "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)