Minivac 601

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The Minivac 601 was a digital computer kit created by Claude Shannon and sold by Scientific Development Corporation in as early as 1961 and was sold for $85.00. It was sold as an educational kit for digital circuits using electromechanical relays as logic switches as well as for very basic storage. Six simple switches made up the binary inputs with lights to represent the outputs whilst a large dial allowed the user to enter decimal numbers.
Although it gained fast acceptance amongst educational institutions and home hobbyists, large corporations were unwilling to buy it as a device to help their employees learn more about how computers worked. The firm selling the product repainted the device from red and blue to gunmetal-grey, changed the tolerance on some of the switches (at a very nominal cost) and renamed the device the Minivac 6010. They also increased its price to $479.
All of these changes made the device acceptable to corporation as a legitimate learning device and not as just a toy. Hundreds of Minivac 6010's sold to businesses at $479. 
The advertising leaflet stated "The Minivac 601 is a unique digital computer - the small brother of huge electronic brains that are the new tools of science and industry".

Manufacturer: SDC
Date: 1st October 1961

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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH499. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


Minivac 601

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