The GENIAC was the first of several similar machines designed and sold by Berkeley:
* GENIAC = Genius
* TINYAC = Tiny Almost-Automatic Computer
* WEENIAC = Weeny Almost-Automatic Computer (only 60 made)
* BRAINIAC = Brain-
GENIAC was an educational toy built as a "computer" designed and marketed by Edmund C. Berkeley from 1955
through the sixties. Widely advertised in science and electronics magazines, the GENIAC provided many youths with
their first hands-on introduction to computer concepts and Boolean logic.
Priced at $15.95 in 1955 GENIAC was far ahead of its time. It basically was a collection of configurable ("hard-
wire programmable") N-pole by N-throw rotary switches, which could be set up and cascaded to perform logical
functions. The reason I say "N-pole" is that the switches were made of drilled masonite disks that you might
wire as a many-pole two-throw, or single-pole multi-throw, depending on what logical function you were implementing.
The kit came with a pretty good tutorial, which, as I look at it, is still useful today. The projects started with
basic logic circuits and progressed to such things as a NIM machine and TIC-TAC-TOE machine. Back in 1955 the idea of
making a machine that could play even the simple game of tic-tac-toe was just amazing. The "output" device
was a set of lamps that would light in response to the "input data" (switch positions) and "program"
(how they were wired).