Re: "Santa Claus..."
"Computers of the day were BIG things"
The first hand calculators were just being invented, and the first minicomputers. So yeah. But the design for Apollo's computer was from several years earlier, 1965-ish (and some documents I found go back even earlier).
ROM firmware on the Apollo computers used 'rope' memory, sorta like read-only core memory, where the presence of a core or absence of one determined 1 or 0. They were strung by women who were good at sewing, as I understand.
I also downloaded another document from a related Apollo archive that talked about the ICs chosen in that computer. Apparently it was a dual 3 input NOR gate, plus a memory sense amplifier. Yeah, JUST the two. These were primarily the only things available at design time in or around 1965 in sufficient quantities to be practical. Another photograph at the archive site showed the Fairchild 'F' clearly visible, but the intent was that many manufacturers could compete for producing these things for the Apollo program. And I'm not surprised it if was RTL... one of the 'first and worst' designs for logic ICs. But yeah, it worked. And it was small/light enough to fit in an Apollo capsule [and the LEM had its own as well]. The gate circuit diagram in the document shows 3 transistors and 4 resistors... wheeee!!!! Not sure what the logic gate 'fanout' of a collector resistor would allow you to have, but it probably wasn't much.
The sense amplifier was a bit more complex, consisting of 6 transistors and 8 resistors, with 3 external ref voltages, and an external balanced input transformer with 2 external resistors, and also used a strobe pulse to enable the open collector output. Most likely it was configured as one amp per bit per core board.
I got that particular PDF document from "https://authors.library.caltech.edu/5456/1/hrst.mit.edu/groups/apollo/bibliography/q-and-a.tcl_topic_id=11&topic=Document%20Library.html" (I would put a link but I don't wanna deal with captcha).
The actual PDF was titled 'A case history of the AGC integrated logic circuits'.
Several other diagrams show discrete components being used as interfaces and signal shapers. Additionally it shows how 'unpowered' gates could be combined with a single gate (that has power applied) to increase the number of inputs on the gate. If you look at the circuit diagram of the RTL logic it makes sense, basically "leave off" the power connection and you can combine two by tying the outputs together.
The full schematic is probably in there someplace. I'd like to see it as a logic diagram, but that's a lot of downloading and searching... and I think someone already has a simulator out there someplace.