The LINC is one of the most significant machines in the history of computing. It was on the LINC that for the first time a whole computer (not just a time-slot, or batch job) was dedicated to a single person. And the LINC was a graphical, responsive computer, with an all-points-addressible display, keyboard and other interfaces dedicated to respond to the user alone. In addition, the LINC was portable (in a van or good solid station wagon), designed to be set up on a desk (or in the case of its biomedical research focus, a bench) and turned off at night. Next, the LINC had, for the first time, reliable, high speed, removable and compact removable storage media (the LINCTape that was to evolve into DECTape). And lastly, the LINC could be assembled from a kit by its users who then took them home to their home institutions or even private homes, wrote programs that they then shared with the community of LINC users.
While only about fifty were built, and they were used strictly by research institutions, the experience of using the LINC was by the mid 1960s, a portent of what people were to find in the microcomputing and personal computing revolution ten year in the future. The LINC community also functioned like the home brew computer clubs of the 1970s in that there was a "you build it, you share the software" ethos.
Was the LINC "the First Personal Computer (or Workstation)"?
Some have claimed that the LINC was the world's first personal computer. Gordon Bell thinks so too, see his quotation below.
In a January 2008 correspondanced with Allan Kay, he wrote about the LINC:
Please feel free to take a look at our numerous LINC resources including the Story of the LINC and its restoration, the LINC Event we held on November 3-5th, 2007 and this page on the LINC now in the Digibarn collection.
The LINC on display at the Vintage Computer Festival (Nov 3-4, 2007)
Software on the LINC
Running LINC software, as recorded by Maury Pepper
Report from the field, Tuesday September 25, 2007 somewhere in darkest Missouri. Yesterday I fired up my old tape containing many games and demos. We ran the following programs:
SQUEEZE. A clunky demo Wes had me write as an initiation ritual when I started at CSL. It allows typing in text and controlling with several knobs the character pitch, vertical and horizontal positioning and margins.
I have a set of tapes with Gerald's music program, but they are set up for a version of LAP6 that only runs on the microLINC and has other "special" requirements that make it especially challenging. Gerald, for now, is up to the challenge, and with help from Tom, we may get an interface so we can dump out manuscripts and data for perusal on a more friendly computing contrivance. Without a Model 33 Teletype, it really is difficult to work with long manuscripts under current conditions.
Curator: thanks Maury! And here are some more views of the LINC in operation, if you have LINC Tapes and would like to run them, please contact us!
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