Bill Gates and Paul Allen moved to Albuquerque (~1975?) to write Software for the MITS Altair 8800, but 10 years earlier MITS cofounder Forest Mims III aka "god" in electronics hobbyist parlance, was working at this desk on sophisticated electronics for .... Drones.
Well, ok, maybe just model rockets, but hey this is 1966. Who would have though that a rocket launchable "Blinky" would have led to the Personal Computer revolution? Now I know why Nate is does his new product "launches" the MITS way: he's hoping some Mims Magic will rub off. Anyway, it's a great story, hiding away on an antique website. I just had to share:
In your comments please admit if you have a design housed in a circa 1966 Ray-o-Vac blue plastic flashlight (check). And if you hung out at the local radio shack memorizing the color wheel, waiting for the next edition of the Engineers Notebook while your schoolmates were hiding under the covers with a flashlight and contraband?
All kidding aside, you are probably looking at the first hobbyist autopilot: In this closeup, Mims describes a "Sun Tracking Guidance system."
As I have recently done some daydreaming on a solar tracker, I think I can explain how this might work, A single light sensor drives a solenoid on a rotating rocket, when the sensor rolls into the sun, it moves a pair of fins (or engine) which pushes the rocket towards the sun for a brief portion of its rotation. Over-correcting is probably an issue - imagine no PID?
It is suggested that the Blinky was invented to help debug the solar tracker, but the resultant article leads to the MITS company, the altair, Gates & Allen, and the rest, as they say....