Kids' computers through the ages

The evolution of toy computers for children mirrors that of real-world systems for adults. We look at some of the changes the play-along versions have undergone in the past 70 years.

Toy Computers

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It's a scene as old as humanity itself: If mommy sweeps, baby wants a tiny broom. If daddy drives an automobile, son wants a tiny pedal car. In the same vein, the late 20th century found parents performing an entirely new activity that kids wanted to imitate: using a computer. The toy industry took up the challenge and began churning out miniature, functional facsimiles of larger computers that were suitable for kids to use. These toys mirrored changes in technology over the decades, progressing from primitive mechanical devices to full-fledged electronic PCs. From the 1980s on, they often won their way into parents' hearts by providing educational instruction in basic subjects such as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The slides that illustrate more than a dozen computers aimed directly at kids and depict how they evolved through the ages. Space constraints forced us to leave plenty out, so when you're done reading, feel free to share your memories of educational computers in the comments below.

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