Highlights of the Event
Background on the event
The LINC: A Paradigm Shift
Back when computers were giant, fiercely-expensive, room-filling affairs that had to be shared, it took corrective foresight to believe that it was possible to put a whole computer into the hands of a single user as owner and master. Conventional wisdom has it that this vision wasn't realized until the 1970s, but in fact such a machine, the LINC, was developed at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in the early 1960s. The particular motivation was to provide a programable computer for real-time, on-line biomedical research. The work was carried out by a small group of enthusiastic colleagues, and the LINC (Laboratory INstrument Computer) proved so successful that in less than two years, under the aegis of the National Institutes of Health, copies were in active use in over twenty laboratories around the country. Over the next decade the LINC and its variants spread through the biomedical research community and significantly advanced the work in numerous disciplines.
The LINC has been identified by the IEEE Computer Society as the first personal computer. However, as the leader of the design team puts it:
In the rush of the technological advance of the 1970s and 80s, the LINC became obsolete. Fortunately, one of the most foresightful of us had the wisdom to purchase four of the decommissioned LINCs and sequester them in his garage in St. Louis. Over the last year he and three colleagues, working with great zeal and no funding, managed to bring one of the LINCs back to life, which will be displayed and demonstrated at the Vintage Computer Festival and subsequently move into the permanent collection of the Digibarn Computer Museum.
In the first part of our presentation, some members of the original design team will summarize the early history and applications and describe what was special about the LINC. In the second part, the resuscitation team will describe what it took to rejuvenate an ancient computer that had slept quietly for more than twenty-five years.
It is sad that Charlie Molnar, the LINC's co-designer, died in 1996; we will miss his keen insights and sense of humor. This presentation is dedicated to his memory.
Additional Background on the LINC
Please see our special pages on the history and restoration of the LINC here.
Digibarn Hosted the LINC Event at the VCF 10
Severo Ornstein assembled a steller cast and crew to present a panel and a birthday cake cutting at the annual Vintage Computer Festival 10.0 on Sunday, November 4th at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California. See our past birthday events here.
If anyone out there was there and/or has insights into the LINC,
See our past birthday events here
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