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Friday, April 12, 2013

Vintage Brainiac Computer Trainer 1959

This Brainiac K-30 trainer was added to our Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum about 20 years ago when my brother found it in antique store for $5.  It is a simple electrical device using rotating disks with programmable contacts  to do a few simple logic and math experiments. I guess at the time it was the only thing available but it is very limited as an educational device.

Original Box
The Brainiac was the idea and design of Edmund Callis Berkeley in 1959.  The BRAINIAC (Brain-Imitating  Almost - Automatic Computer) was preceded by three other Berkeley training machines. They were the GENIAC (Genius Almost - Automatic Computer) , TINYAC ( Tiny Almost - Automatic Computer) and the WEENIAC ( Weeny Almost - Automatic Computer).

Edmund Berkeley (1909- 1988) was involved with computing machinery during his working career. Edmund was a fascinating  and eclectic person working with some of the earliest computer pioneers and  published many papers and some books.
Manual & Circuit board

In 1930 he received a BA degree from Harvard University in Logic & Math. He worked as actuarial clerk in the insurance industry prior to his Navy duty (1942) as a mathematician and worked on the MARK II a sequential calculator project. Just to list a few of his works.
1947 Helped found the Eastern Association for Computing Machinery.
1948 Set up his own company Berkeley Associates and also felt his duty to work against nuclear war.
1949 Wrote one of his first books "Giant Brains, Or Machines That Think".
Tools for building & using the K-30
1958 He became involved with the peace movement with the committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) lead by Norman Cousins.
His papers and collection of his works are located in the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota.  It is from these historical papers and Bob Dalton's book 'The PC Pioneers' where I found the information used in this blog.

                           This video will give you a good idea what is inside the box

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 Apple Pop-Up exhibits ‘pieces of computer history’- by Joan Durbin -Neighbor Newspapers

Here I am with my wife Gaynell. She puts up with all my computer collecting and has for years.  She is correct - I do need to determine the final distribution of  this collection because our children have very little interest or knowledge about the computers or their historical importance.  I am working on several options but would welcome any input from readers of my computer blog.
"by David Larsen" - KK4WW Computer Collector/Historian