NORAD Semi-Automatic Ground Environment

(SAGE) was a system of computers that coordinated data from many sites and processed it to produce a single unified image of the airspace

Aliases
SAGE
Announcement / Release
June 26, 1958
Birth Place
United States of America

About

The Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) was a system of large computers and associated networking equipment that coordinated data from many radar sites and processed it to produce a single unified image of the airspace over a wide area. SAGE directed and controlled the NORAD response to a Soviet air attack, operating in this role from the late 1950s into the 1980s The processing power behind SAGE was supplied by the largest computer ever built, the AN/FSQ-7. Each SAGE Direction Center (DC) housed an FSQ-7 which occupied an entire floor, approximately 22,000 square feet, of the massive concrete blockhouse, not including supporting equipment. The upper two floors contained offices, operator stations, and a single two-story radar display visible to most of the DC's personnel. Information was fed to the DC's from a network of radar stations as well as readiness information from various defense sites. The computers, based on the raw radar data, developed "tracks" for the reported targets, and automatically calculated which defenses were within range. Subsets of the data were then sent to the many operator consoles, where the operators used light guns to select targets onscreen for further information, select one of the available defenses, and issue commands to attack. These commands would then be automatically sent to the defense site via teleprinter. Later additions to the system allowed SAGE's tracking data to be sent directly to CIM-10 Bomarc missiles and some of the US Air Force's interceptor aircraft in-flight, directly updating their autopilots to maintain an intercept course without operator intervention.

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