Friday, August 24, 2007

LINC, an early personal computer (1962)

A very interesting announcement from Severo Ornstein, author of Computing in the Middle Ages.


On November 3-4 the Vintage Computer Festival (VCF - see below) will be holding its annual event, and this year after lunch on Sunday the 4th the LINC will be featured. The show will take place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View (which doesn't sponsor the event but which provides space for it). For directions see:

About a year ago Laura and I visited the Digibarn Computer Museum in the hills above Boulder Creek - an institution that could hardly be more different from the formal museum in Mountain View. On our visit we met the Digibarn founder, Bruce Damer, who helps with the program for the VCF. He had previously been only marginally aware of the LINC's existence, but when I described its seminal role in the history of the personal computer and after reading my book, he enthusiastically embraced the idea of featuring it. Remembering that Scott Robinson, a technician at the former Washington University Computer Lab in St. Louis, had stashed several LINCs away in his garage some twenty years ago when they became obsolete, I talked him and some of my other former Wash. U. colleagues into trying to resuscitate one of the machines.

Over the course of the past year they have managed to get one working again (!) and they will be accompanying it to the VCF where it will be shown, and a bunch of us old-time LINC types will hold forth about the LINC's history and resurrection. We plan to record the panel and the LINC, and to interview LINCers in order to produce a DVD documentary about the LINC, its role in history, and its community. Please send Bruce Damer ( any photos, movies, audio, text, documents, or other material you might have to help us better tell the LINC story. Immediately after the show finishes, we're going to move the LINC to it's ultimate destination at the Digibarn and anyone who wishes is invited to help with the move and take a tour of the Digibarn. Probably a gaggle of us will then go to dinner someplace.

You can see a documentary page about the LINC, the restoration, the team and commentary about it as "the first personal computer" at this site. More details about the 2007 Vintage Computer Festival will be posted soon at this site.

I hope you can join us at the Computer History Museum on Nov. 4th.


Some would argue that the Bendix G-15, which pre-dated LINC by about five years, was also a "personal computer" in the sense that it was used by a single person at its keyboard, but let's not quibble about that. LINC certainly influenced those who eventually made personal computing commonplace.