A Danish computer, GIER, from 1961 played a vital role in the development of a new method for astrometric measurement. This method, photon counting astrometry, ultimately led to two satellites with a significant role in the modern revolution of astronomy. A GIER was installed at the Hamburg Observatory in 1964 where it was used to implement the entirely new method for the measurement of stellar positions by means of a meridian circle, at that time the fundamental instrument of astrometry. An expedition to Perth in Western Australia with the instrument and the computer was a success. This method was also implemented in space in the first ever astrometric satellite Hipparcos launched by ESA in 1989. The Hipparcos results published in 1997 revolutionized astrometry with an impact in all branches of astronomy from the solar system and stellar structure to cosmic distances and the dynamics of the Milky Way. In turn, the results paved the way for a successor, the one million times more powerful Gaia astrometry satellite launched by ESA in 2013. Preparations for a Gaia successor in twenty years are making progress.
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