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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
Laboratory INstrument Computer
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computer (LINC) A computer which was originally designed in
1962 by Wesley Clark, Charles Molnar, Severo Ornstein and
others at the Lincoln Laboratory Group, to facilitate
scientific research. With its digital logic and storedprograms, the LINC is accepted by the IEEE Computer Society
to be the World's first interactive personal computer.
The machine was developed to fulfil a need for better
laboratory tools by doctors and medical researchers. It would
supplant the 1958 Average Response Computer, and was
designed for individual use.
Led by William N. Papian and mainly funded by the NationalInstitute of Health, Wesley Clark designed the logic while
Charles Molnar did the engineering. The first LINC was
finished in March 1962.
In January 1963, the project moved to MIT, and then to
Washington University (in St. Louis) in 1964.
The LINC had a simple operating system, four "knobs" (which
was used like a mouse), a Soroban keyboard (for
alpha-numeric data entry), two LINCtape drives and a small
CRT display. It originally had one kilobit of corememory, but this was expanded to 2 Kb later. The computer
was made out of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) hardware
Over 24 LINC systems had been built before late 1964 when
DEC began to sell the LINC commercially.
After the introduction of the PDP-8, Dick Clayton at
DEC produced a rather frightening hybrid of the LINC and
PDP-8 called a LINC-8. This really was not a very
satisfactory machine, but it used the new PDP-8 style DEC
cards and was cheaper and easier to produce. It still
didn't sell that well.
In the late 1960s, Clayton brought the design to its pinnacle
with the PDP-12, an amazing tour de force of the LINC concept;
along with about as seamless a merger as could be done with
the PDP-8. This attempted to incorporate TTL logic into the
machine. The end of the LINC line had been reached.
Due to the success of the LINC-8, Spear, Inc. produced a
LINC clone (since the design was in the public domain).
The interesting thing about the Spear micro-LINC 300 was
that it used MECL II logic. MECL logic was known for its
blazing speed (at the time!), but the Spear computer ran at
very modest rates.
In 1995 the last of the classic LINCs was turned off for
the final time after 28 years of service. This LINC had
been in use in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratory of Auditory
Physiology (EPL) of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear