Artifact Details


LINC operator's console

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Physical object


Secondary donor: Dick Clayton This item comprises 2 (two) pieces: A: CRT Unit B: Operator's Console First produced in 1962, might well be considered the great grandfather of the pesonal computers. The LINC, designed as a tool for the scientific labratory, introduced the linc tape, the equivalent of the floppy disk. This feature, along with interactive program editing, allowed users to have truly personal files. Description: 12 bit word length, 125000 instructions per second, discrete transitor circuitry, 2048 primary word memory, price $43,600. 50 Produced (21 by DEC) Quote from designer: "In September 1963, the last of about twelve, freshly assembled LINCs was safely delivered ... The event marked the successful completion of Phase I of a remarkable and unprecedented program. The twelve LINCs assembled during the hot Cambridge summer of '63 had been put together by the owners themselves. Each of these pioneers would take full responsibility for trial operation of the LINC as a workstation in his own biomedical research laboratory. " รป Wesley Clark Len Shustek writes: LINC facts In the early 1960's the typical computer was an expensive huge monstrosity operated for the benefit of hundreds of people. One walked into it. IBM in particular built big machines, and you shared them with others by submitting jobs on card decks to be run by an operator later. The LINC was different. It was one of the earliest small computers, and can be thought of as the "great grandfather" of today's personal computers. It cost only $32,000 and was the size of a refrigerator instead of a room, which was a great advance. LINC came out of MIT and was designed by Wes Clark, Charlie Molnar, and others, who thought that computers should be tools for laboratory researchers, not just mathematical number crunchers ? LINC stood (eventually) for "Laboratory Instrument Computer". It didn't get it's input from punched cards, but from wires connected to laboratory experiments in progress. And that meant that it had to include "analog to digital" converters to change continuous signals like that coming from the brain of a test animal to numbers that the computer could process. And "digital to analog" converters so the computer could control the experiment. Since different researchers would use it for different jobs, each user had to have a way to store his program and data separately from other people's. This was before the invention of the floppy disk, so Clark invented a small "LINC tape" so that users could take their data away with them to use next time. The first dozen LINCs were assembled by their owners themselves ? in the hot summer of 1963 in Cambridge at MIT. They then took them home to their university research labs, and knew enough about them to fix them if the broke ? there wasn't anyone else to call! But most were very reliable. From one of the sites the only call for help they ever got was what to do with the elapsed-time meter that had just jammed at its limit of 99999! Some of the 1964 users of the first 12 LINCs used their computers for : + Behavorial conditioning experiments with pigeons and monkeys + Monitoring of brain and nerve signals + Analysis of blood flow and heart muscle behavior + Genetic studies using mass spectrometers and other instruments LINC became a commercial computer manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation, and more than 1200 were eventually made, in various versions. Some were running 20 years later. But very few were put together by their owners, like the original 12 were.




Lincoln Laboratory

Place Manufactured


Identifying Numbers

Model number LINC


8 1/4 x in. 19 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.


I/O/console / panel


Gift of Wes Clark

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