the LINC (Laboratory Instrument Computer)

I share my favorite hobby with my father. Some fathers and sons spend time rebuilding old cars; my dad and I enjoy rebuilding a 1963 LINC Computer.

In 1961, Wesley Clark, a computer pioneer and part time neurophysiologist, designed the LINC -- the first personal computer – based on his firm belief that "a computer should be just another piece of lab equipment" that could greatly facilitate neurophysiological research. In early 1963, NIH and NASA sponsored a program to evaluate the usefulness of the LINC. A panel chose twelve laboratories for this program and the laboratory of my father, J. Walter Woodbury, was one of the awardees of a LINC that first year, 1963. At the time he was Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington (Seattle). The LINC was designed to aid Neurophysiologists with real-time experimental measurements.

Like many others, I was hooked on computers the first time my dad showed me how to use it and grew up on the LINC. The LINC was a big success and despite its ~$40K price tag, 40 or more LINCs were built those first few years. Our LINC functioned flawlessly until the mid-1980’s when it rather suddenly developed an excessive “crash rate”. After sitting in a corner for two decades, we are bringing this important historical relic back to life.

2013-14 was the 50th anniversary of the LINC

 Related celebrations (25 May 2013): BCL-CSL Reunion


Walt Woodbury assembles a LINC at MIT (Aug. 1963)
Dr. Walt Woodbury assembles a LINC at MIT (Aug. 1963)
Waking up the LINC in 2001-2002. Dixon an
Waking up the LINC in 2001-2002. Dixon and Walt using a test scope on the LINC.
The LINC fills two equipment racks.  On the left t
The LINC fills two equipment racks:(left) control panel/user interface with keyboard, oscilloscope display and tape drives; (right) main CPU, memory (2K), and power supply (bottom).
One of the ~300 cards that make up the “brains” of
One of the ~300 cards that make up the “brains” of the LINC with its original documentation

Other web pages about the LINC:

Evolution of the PC (from AARP Magazine ).
History of the LINC (from NIH).
The last known working LINC now at the MIT Museum (retired in 1992).
LINC: biology's revolutionary little computer by Joe November
LINC Computer Document at the Southwest Museum of Engineering.
The LINC: A Paradigm Shift - 1962:The First Personal Computer-
A special event hosted by the Digibarn held at the Vintage Computer Festival 10.0.
Work by Herb Johnson to restore
LINC tape drive.

Wikipedia entry: LINC
Dictionary entry: Laboratory Instrument Computer