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  Tindallgrams, anyone? Bill Tindall's memos (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Tindallgrams, anyone? Bill Tindall's memos
music_space
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posted 08-30-2007 07:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there anyone out there with a collection of Bill Tindall's Tindallgrams memos?

atbaird
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posted 08-30-2007 11:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for atbaird     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am a doctoral candidate at Auburn University currently writing a biography of Bill Tindall for my dissertation. Tindall wrote over 1,100 memos between 1964 and 1970 for both Gemini and Apollo. There are copies of many of them available in several different archives but there is not a complete set.

One of Tindall's friends put together a set of 185 Apollo Tindallgrams just after Bill died in 1995. The University of Houston-Clear Lake Archives has a digitized version of that set on CD.

I know that many NASA MSC workers from the Gemini/Apollo years saved copies of various Tindallgrams they received as part of their work but most of the copies I have seen belong to NASA, the National Archives, or UH-Clear Lake.

Andrew Baird

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-30-2007 11:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by atbaird:
One of Tindall's friends put together a set of 185 Apollo Tindallgrams just after Bill died in 1995. The University of Houston-Clear Lake Archives has a digitized version of that set on CD.
If there's interest (silly question, I know), I'll be happy to go over to UHCL to make a copy of this set and post it for download from collectSPACE...

Max Q
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posted 08-30-2007 11:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Please Robert that would be wonderful I have often read about them and would love to read them.

astroborg
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posted 08-31-2007 06:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astroborg   Click Here to Email astroborg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would like to second that motion, Robert!

Andy McCulley
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posted 08-31-2007 07:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Andy McCulley   Click Here to Email Andy McCulley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I third it.

randy
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posted 08-31-2007 08:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I fourth it.

Naraht
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posted 08-31-2007 02:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As for complete sets, I had heard that both John Aaron and Jay Greene had them, but maybe that's not true?

atbaird
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posted 08-31-2007 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for atbaird     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The printed copies of the 185 Tindallgrams put together in 1995 (they were put in 3 ring binders) are sometimes referred to as complete sets. I've heard several people refer to them that way. However, NASA references show Bill having written over 1,100 memos during Gemini and Apollo alone. The problem with trying to compile a complete set is that apparently no one person or office received them all. Bill's work covered a fairly broad area and although Tindallgrams were dispersed widely both inside and out of MSC, they often were addressed to specific groups who were dealing with a particular issue. People who held onto the copies they received probably think of them as complete or nearly complete sets but I don't believe that is the case.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-31-2007 06:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As it turns out, the NASA-UHCL archives had not one, but three separate collections of Tindallgrams scanned and available. I haven't had a chance to check how they overlap (or if they overlap), but I would appreciate any help doing so. Ultimately, I'd like to add these to a new section of cS Resources so that they are easily accessible, but perhaps they can first be merged in a such way to present one set of documents.

In the meantime, here are the Tindallgrams:

  • tindallgrams01.pdf (23 mb, 525 pages) - this collection was scanned by Glen Swanson when he was historian for Johnson Space Center.

  • tindallgrams02.pdf (23 mb, 380 pages) - the best organized of the three, this collection was originally labeled "Lunney" and includes both an index and an introduction by Malcolm Johnston of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. This may be the set described above by Andrew, as this includes 186 Tindallgrams.

    If you have never read Tindallgrams before, this may be the collection you want to start with.

  • The third set was labeled "KSC" and the scan quality is not great, but it is broken into four PDFs by year:

wickball
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posted 08-31-2007 07:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wickball   Click Here to Email wickball     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, this is some fascinating reading, makes you feel like you are right there, in the middle of the action of the time. And I think, wow, this was 40 years ago, walking on the moon! Then modern day reality sets in and it seems we are so far away from ever being able to achieve this again.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-31-2007 07:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by wickball:
This is some fascinating reading, makes you feel like you are right there, in the middle of the action of the time.
The Tindallgrams are one of the great resources for space history enthusiasts.

For the benefit of those previously unfamiliar with Tindall and his memos, the following is the foreword by Malcolm Johnson that is included with the second collection linked above:

The enclosed collection of memoranda were written by Howard W. "Bill" Tindall, Jr., the former Director of Flight Operations at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. They document key technical decisions made between 1966 and early 1970 for all unmanned and manned flights through Apollo 13, and became widely know as "Tindallgrams." Astronauts, flight controllers, and engineers took part in this planning, and many have lamented that they had lost track of their copies, so we have bound this set together for them. As Buzz Aldrin remembered, "Bill had a brilliant way of analyzing things and the leadership that gathered diverse points of view with the utmost fairness."

In 1966, Apollo Spacecraft Program Manager George Low made Tindall responsible for all guidance and navigation computer software development by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bill quickly grasped the key issues and clearly characterized the associated pros and cons, sometimes painfully for us, but his humor, friendliness, and ever-constructive manner endeared him to all of us.

In 1967, Low put Tindall in charge of a group called Mission Techniques, which was designed to bring together hardware development, flight crew procedures, mission roles, and spacecraft and control center computer programming. According to former MSC Director Christopher Kraft, "Those meetings were the hardened core of Apollo as far as operations planning was concerned. That's where the famous Tindallgrams came from." He continued, "It would be difficult for me to find anyone who contributed more individually to the success of Apollo than Bill Tindall."

Those of us who took part in those meetings and other interactions with Bill will always appreciate another aspect of his contribution... he made it a lot of fun!

bruce
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posted 08-31-2007 10:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bruce   Click Here to Email bruce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, this is marvelous stuff!

Max Q
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posted 09-01-2007 01:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Max Q   Click Here to Email Max Q     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks mate, I look forward to many happy hours reading.

Naraht
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posted 09-01-2007 03:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by atbaird:
The printed copies of the 185 Tindallgrams put together in 1995 (they were put in 3 ring binders) are sometimes referred to as complete sets.

Ah, thanks! That makes a lot of sense.

I will very much look forward to reading the results of your work on Bill Tindall, if you make them available to the public. A fascinating character who definitely deserves more attention than he's gotten.

randy
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posted 09-01-2007 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is great! Thanks, Robert!

stsmithva
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posted 09-02-2007 07:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is yet another example of how amazing collectSPACE is, usually for the most part because of Robert's work. One member asks about something, within hours another member has mentioned that they are writing a dissertation on the subject and provides information, and by the next day Robert has done the research to be able to provide links to exactly what the first member (and many of the rest of us) will enjoy reading.

micropooz
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posted 09-02-2007 08:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I gotta tell one Tindall story. Tindall was one of the speakers at the Apollo 8 25th anniversary celebration at JSC in 1993, before his work was commonly known. After the talks, I asked him to autograph a cover for me. Humble as always, he said "You want ME to autograph your cover? Are you sure?". After he got done, someone else asked him for an auto and he said "Now you are the second person who has ever asked me for an autograph - and there's the first" (pointing at me)! A truly humble and humorous man...

capcom9
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posted 09-02-2007 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capcom9   Click Here to Email capcom9     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I've got my Fall & Winter reading cut out for me! These are a treasure trove that I've dreamed about reading, and can't wait to dig in! Thank you so much!!

music_space
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posted 09-03-2007 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, and winter is long here close to Montreal, Canada...

I'm back to cS from a few days' vacation, and I get to read all this near instantaneous development... Fantastic!

Thanks to everyone involved, I am really happy.

Now I will gladly write a thanks (but-I'm-good-now-thanks) note to other parties I inquired to the same day about this (NASA History, plus "Apollo"s co-author Charles Murray who has a set in his collection). I will refer them to cS to see for themselves, of course!

spacechild
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posted 09-03-2007 10:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacechild   Click Here to Email spacechild     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The second Tindallgram upload was pulled together by Malcolm Johnson following my father, Bill Tindall's death in 95. Malcolm made a copy for my mother and in turn all of his kids received a copy. I believe my mother already had a full set of Tindallgrams that dad had saved but her set obviously didn't have the nice forward written by Malcolm. These do make good reading.

Also wanted to add, it really is wonderful to find that so many others appreciated my dad and his wonderful sense of humor.

Happy reading!

astroborg
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posted 09-04-2007 06:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astroborg   Click Here to Email astroborg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Robert! This is great to actually have copies of these for all of us to read.

Bill Tindall was truly a national treasure!

spaceman1953
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posted 09-04-2007 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stsmithva:
This is yet another example of how amazing CollectSPACE is, usually for the most part because of Robert's work.
Ditto, Steve. THIS is worth the price of admission!

Amanda has reading material for the REST of her teenage years! Thanks, Robert, many, many thanks!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-04-2007 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spacechild:
Also wanted to add, it really is wonderful to find that so many others appreciated my dad and his wonderful sense of humor.
I would like to add my own appreciation for your participation as part of this thread. It really brought a smile to my face when I read your post and realized the full circle we've created by this one discussion. It's moments like these, as well as the support shared by our members, that serves to justify the time and work that goes into producing collectSPACE.

music_space
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posted 09-04-2007 09:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I second that, Robert. In addition to the intellectual stimulation, the friendships and the bettering of its members' lives, through its interactions cS provides opportunities for genuine, deep spiritual inspiration.

spacechild
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posted 09-05-2007 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacechild   Click Here to Email spacechild     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, it brought a smile to my face when I googled late one weekend night and found this enthusiasm about my dad and his tindallgrams. I know that he would be humbled by the attention. My children were very young when my father passed. I am so thankful that I have these to share with them so hopefully they can get an idea of who he was. I smile when I read some of the grams because there is so much of my father's personality in them. Charles Murray got it right when he described my dad and his love for his work like a child going to the circus. He truly did love his job. He would say, I'm not working, I'm playing and I truly believe that is how he felt.

Thanks again for keeping him alive.

Tiki Tindall Williams

kr4mula
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posted 09-05-2007 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a former member of the JSC history office, I had the pleasure of researching and interviewing a fair number of the former Flight Ops guys, both on-console and behind the scenes. Your father was one guy who was spoken about by them with universal reverence...and irreverence! We had great regret that the JSC Oral History Project started a couple of years too late to interview Bill Tindall (not to mention many others!). His Tindallgrams were the stuff of legend and were also useful resources for our research. I'm glad to see you dropping by here to say hi and be sure to let your children know their grandfather has the respect of many people, even those who never had the chance to know him.

Out of curiosity, does the copy your father saved and gave to your mother match the set given to you? As others have pointed out, he wrote many memos for different departments, making collecting a complete set very challenging. I would think the ones he saved himself would be the most complete.

spacechild
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posted 09-05-2007 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacechild   Click Here to Email spacechild     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Again, Thanks. I wish you would have had an opportunity to interview him too. I know you would have enjoyed it. He was always quite entertaining.

I have read quite a few of the oral histories. I have found them interesting. They are a great resource of information. You should be proud of your work.

Charles Murray and Catherine Cox interviewed my dad for their Apollo book and I believe recorded the interviews. I wonder if they kept the tapes.

My mother has a copy of the grams (185 pages) that Malcolm pulled together. In addition to that she had/has Tindallgrams that dad saved. I will have to ask her exactly what she has and will get back with you. I'm curious now too.

spacechild
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posted 09-05-2007 12:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacechild   Click Here to Email spacechild     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, it turns out my mother has all of the originals. My dad's wonderful secretary Judy Wyatt created 6 binders full of my dad's NASA correspondance.

I will see about making these available in the future.

garymilgrom
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posted 09-05-2007 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is superb. Thank you Robert (and Tiki).

music_space
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posted 09-05-2007 03:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've done some follow-up with Andrew Baird, the doctoral candidate who is in the final leg of writing Howard "Bill" Tindall's biography.

Of course, I asked him "Why Tindall?" Here's his reply (with permission):

My major advisor at Auburn University is James R. Hansen, who recently published the first authorized biography of Neal Armstrong entitled First Man. I had the pleasure of assisting with some of the research for the book. During one of Dr. Hansen's first interviews with Armstrong, the question came up as to who Dr. Hansen should interview for the book. Armstrong replied that if Bill Tindall were still living, he would be the most worthy individual from NASA to interview.
Andrew T. Baird's own biography.

Naraht
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posted 09-05-2007 04:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spacechild:
I will see about making these available in the future.
Wonderful. There are many, many people who would appreciate this greatly. Thank you for sharing this, and for helping to keep your father's memory alive.

music_space
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posted 09-05-2007 08:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
As it turns out, the NASA-UHCL archives had not one, but three separate collections of Tindallgrams scanned and available. I haven't had a chance to check how they overlap (or if they overlap), but I would appreciate any help doing so.
Well, I have started doing just that. I am working on an Excel Table of contents. In version 0 of this document, you'll find Johnson's TOC for tindalgramms02.pdf with corrected page numbers.

Email me to get a copy of this.

kr4mula
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posted 09-06-2007 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I, for one, think it's a stunning find to know that a truly complete set is out there. Depending on how much time and effort you (Tiki) feel like putting into this project, I'd highly recommend you make a copy available to the JSC archives at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. They have copies of some of the lesser sets and their own database lists some 700+ documents authored by Tindall (obviously not all "Tindallgrams") from Apollo-Shuttle (the earlier stuff is mostly at NARA-Ft. Worth). The archivist there, Shelly Kelly, is among the best I've ever worked with and I'm sure she'd be glad to get and/or help make a copy from you. Alternately, I'm sure you'd find some willing helpers on cS to scan in copies.

spacechild
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posted 09-06-2007 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacechild   Click Here to Email spacechild     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My mother and I live in the Dallas area so Ft. Worth would not be too bad of a drive. That's a good idea.

This really is history worth preserving.

kr4mula
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posted 09-06-2007 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to clarify - Shelly Kelly is the NASA JSC archivist at UHCL in Houston. They have the majority of JSC's material, including all of its oral histories. A couple decades ago, they moved their Mercury and Gemini materials to the National Archives (NARA) in Ft. Worth because of space issues (they've since moved into new facilities). I'm not sure who runs the NARA facility in Ft. Worth these days. It used to be a guy named Kent, who was a great NASA supporter, but he has since retired. The head archivist was named Meg, but I don't know if she's still there, either. The Houston folks are very easy to deal with for anyone wanted to donate material and they're very good at making it available to researchers. I'm not sure what NARA's policies are on accessioning things from the public. Possibly someone here will know. In any case, NARA is a bit more Byzantine in its procedures than NASA is.

dsky
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posted 04-21-2008 05:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was wondering if there has been any update regarding the collection of original Tindallgrams made available by the family of Bill Tindall. I discovered late this post and maybe the answer is elsewhere (in which case I apologize).

By the way, it has been a privilege e-meeting relatives of Tindall: their attitude on this topic and the value they have of the work of their father says a lot about the man itself.

HDavid
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posted 09-16-2011 08:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HDavid   Click Here to Email HDavid     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bill could write it down in longhand just as it was said in our meetings. What a talent.

But consider... that those 1100 or so Tindallgrams were typed up on a manual typewriter day after day, page after page primarily by Bill's secretary Judy Wyatt. She deserves a medal!

Buel
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posted 09-10-2013 06:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Please could I ask what happened regarding the potential scans of the complete set of Tindallgrams? I'm fascinated to know.

garymilgrom
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posted 09-10-2013 08:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The 10th post down has links to many (all?) of these. It's a few years old so good luck.


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