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Giant brains; or, Machines that think by…

Giant brains; or, Machines that think

by Edmund Callis Berkeley

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This is the book that laid the groundwork and excited my interest in computers as a teenager in the early 1950s. My curiosity about computers has continued unabated into my septuagenarian years.

Concerning Simon, the first personal computer, the author was ahead of his time when he wrote: "We shall now consider how we can design a very simple machine that will think... Let us call it Simon, because of its predecessor, Simple Simon... Simon is so simple and so small in fact that it could be built to fill up less space than a grocery-store box; about four cubic feet... It may seem that a simple model of a mechanical brain like Simon is of no great practical use. On the contrary, Simon has the same use in instruction as a set of simple chemical experiments has: to stimulate thinking and understanding, and to produce training and skill. A training course on mechanical brains could very well include the construction of a simple model mechanical brain, as an exercise."

A working model of Simon was actually built in 1950 at a cost of about $600.

I was ready from this time on to buy or build a personal computer as soon as I could afford it -- something that wouldn't happen until October 1977 when I bought the first Radio Shack TRS-80 Microcomputer sold in Knoxville, Tennessee, for, you guessed it, $600. ( )
  MrJack | Oct 3, 2008 |
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