Artifact Details

Title

Original Tinkertoy Computer

Catalog Number

X39.81

Type

Physical object

Date

1978

Manufacturer

Daniel Hillis and Brian Silverman

Place Manufactured

U.S.

Identifying Numbers

Model number Tinker Toy
Serial number 1

Dimensions

overall: 48 in x 51 1/2 in x 35 in

Description

Object is an assembly of standard Tinkertoy rods and wheels in a 3x3 array of units (as seen from the front). There are a number of strings used as belts to connect rotating parts between units.

In a letter from Danny Hillis to Gordon Bell dated May 21, 1981 : "It contains about 10,000 wooden parts, plus some fishing line and sinkers, all held together by small brass escutcheons. The machine plays tic-tac-toe with the human player giving the first move. It never loses. The game tree was generated by a LISP progam running on a PDP-10. The PDP-10 also computed the connections of the 140 nine-input gates in the machine. The gates are all TTL (Tinker Toy Logic). A simple three-state logic is used to represent the three possible states of a square (X-O-blank). The design uses simple combinational logic. It could have been built by any six-year old with 500 boxes of tinker toys and a PDP-10. I designed the machine with Brian Silverman in 1978. It was purchased by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and placed in the Mid-America Museum. The machine works, but it's flaky. It requires constant tightening of teh fishing line. The [Mid-America] museum wanted a more rugged machine that they demonstrate every day, so in 1980 we built a second machine... It works much better and has fewer parts, but I think it is a less impressive object."

Category

Digital computer

Credit

Gift of Daniel Hillis and Brian Silverman

Lot Number

X39.81