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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More Kid Computers of the 1980s 

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The middle to late 1980s saw a boom of educational computer toys for kids, which were called ELAs or "electronic learning aids" in industryspeak. Electronics company VTech was the most prolific producer of these new machines and soon became the market leader. Shown here are four units (three of them made by VTech) available at the time.

The Connor ComputerSmarts (1987, upper-left) worked in conjunction with videos on VHS tape to teach kids basics of math and spelling. The VTech Smart Start (1987, upper right) came with a printed activity booklet that taught much of the same information. The VTech Learning Window (1985, lower right) taught kids spelling and math through animations on what was for the time a graphically lush dot-matrix LED screen. The VTech Type-right (1986, lower left) taught typing skills in conjunction with instruction from an audio tape.

Photos: Sears

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