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.

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E.S.R. Digi-Comp I (1963) 

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The Digi-Comp I was an entirely mechanical digital computer made from plastic parts that could perform Boolean logic operations on a three-digit binary number. And you could have it all for only $5 in 1963.

Users programmed the Digi-Comp to handle simple logical tasks such as addition and subtraction by positioning plastic cylinders at certain points on three plastic flip-flop platforms. Users would then manually slide a plastic plate in and out to perform operations, reading the results on the three-digit counter on the left side of the unit.

The Digi-Comp I was so popular that Minds-On Toys recently released a fully functional cardboard reproduction of the unit that you can buy today.

Photos: Minds-On Toys / E.S.R, Inc.

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