Digi-Comp 1 Toy Computer

Digi-Comp 1 Toy Computer

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In the mid-1960s, most children had never seen an electronic computer. However, they had heard stories of the power of these giant instruments and knew that they were associated with space flight. This toy brought the mathematical principles of the digital computer into the home. The manual describes several problems that could be set up, including a basic check out of whether the device was functioning properly, counting down from 7 to 1 in binary, logical riddles, and the game of NIM. There is a special piece that can be used to represent the logical operation "or." The toy was made by E.S.R., Inc. of Orange and Montclair, New Jersey. It sold for about $5.00.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
date received
E.S.R., Incorporated
Place Made
United States: New Jersey, Montclair
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
paper (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 4.3 cm x 47 cm x 33 cm; 1 11/16 in x 18 1/2 in x 13 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of John Garver
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National Museum of American History
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I still have my original Digi Comp I from the 1960s, and all of the books that ESR published to go along with it. I have also written a book of 41 additional activities to play on the machine, and the book supplied with the new Digi Comp version 2 offered by Minds On Toys offers 30 more. That's more than 130 activities to program and play on a 3-bit plastic computer! Not bad! Check the friendsofDigiComp groupsite for more history.
"I was just thinking about toy computers today and remembered the Digicomp. For my 10th birthday, my parents gave me this cool little machine in 1968.I had been playing with those stylus hand-held adding-subtracting calculators for some time - taking different ones apart to see how they 'knew' the answers. My parents supposed that a Digi-Comp was the next step. Instead of having pieces of tin calculators all over my room, the Digi-Comp started in pieces and would clean itself up when assembled.My fondest memory was taking the Digi-Comp to 5th grade math class one day. We had just been introduced to modulo arithmetic, so this was a perfect way to explain binary math - well at least to me. The class and teacher were a bit (no pun intended) confused by my demonstration of the Digi-Comp.The Digi-Comp certainly made an impression on me, as my entire 35 year career as been in computing."
We must be brothers from different parents. My father bought me a Digicomp for my birthday in 1967. My room was probably similar to yours, pieces and parts of anything that I could take apart and learn from. The Digicomp eventually led me into a career in computer hardware maintenance and networking. I worked in the field for 30 years until a shoulder injury and 3 subsequent surgeries put me on disability. I have often wondered how many other 10-11 year old kids followed that same path.

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