Tinker Toy Computer

Picture of a tic-tac-toe computer made from tinker toy parts

The ultimate geek project – a computer made from Tinkertoys!

Designed by Daniel Hillis and Brian Silverman in 1978, it plays tic-tac-toe. The 3 x 3 front panel shows the “X”s and “O”s. It is said never to lose. Per a 1981 letter from Danny Hillis, it was built using about 10,000 wooden parts, some fishing line, and sinkers. They designed it using a LISP program on a PDP-10 computer. Danny wrote, “It could have been built by any 6 year old with 500 boxes of Tinker Toys and a PDP-10 computer.” It uses “TTL (Tinker Toy Logic) gates”.

It now sits in the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California, their catalog #X39.81. You can see and read about it at www.computerhistory.org/collections/catalog/X39.81.

Photo courtesy of the Computer History Museum.

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