The LINC to PC

For a long time, it was the world’s only personal computer: the Laboratory INstrument Computer or LINC. It was developed in 1962 by physicist Wesley Clark and his student Charles Molnar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge near Boston.

The LINC was a 12-bit, 2,048-word transistorised computer; more data was stored on two magnetic tapes. It also had a keyboard and a small monitor. MIT had a dozen of them for medical research; computer company DEC also produced a small series of 50 units.

The computer at home

The LINC was probably the first computer that moved into a normal home, which is why it is called a personal computer: in 1964 and 1965, the young philosopher Mary Allen Wilkes worked with a LINC at her parents’ house in Baltimore. She was an external member of a research group at a university in St. Louis that examined LINC computers, and she wrote an operating system for it, among other things.

In 1972, she left computer science and studied law, eventually becoming a successful lawyer and judge. The LINC at the HNF was first exhibited in 2015 at a special exhibition dedicated to Ada Lovelace. Mary Allen Wilkes came to Paderborn for the opening.