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Manufacturer Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)
Identification,ID DEC LINC-8
Date of first manufacture-
Number produced -
Estimated price or cost-
location in museum -
donor -

Contents of this page:



LINC Computer,

"In September 1963, the last of about twelve, freshly assembled LINCs was safely delivered ... The event marked the successful completion of Phase I of a remarkable and unprecedented program. The twelve LINCs assembled during the hot Cambridge summer of `63 had been put together by the owners themselves. Each of these pioneers would take full responsibility for trial operation of the LINC as a workstation in his own biomedical research laboratory. " - Wesley Clark

From "Digital at Work" , Digital Press, copyright 1992, page 53


First shipped March 1962
Word length 12 bits
Speed 125,000 memory accesses per second
Primary memory 2048 words of core memory, 8 microseconds
Secondary memory Tape
Input/Output Tape, keyboard, oscilloscopes
Arithmetic 1's complement
Number produced 50 (21 by Digital)
Technology Transistor, using Digital System Modules
Power 1,000 watts
History Designed by Wesley Clark and Charles Molnar, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory
Price $43,000
Achievements First to process data from laboratory experiments in real time, accepts both analog and digital inputs directly, first to process data immediately and to provide signals to control experimental equipment

Special features

From "Digital at Work" , Digital Press, copyright 1992, page 52

LINC: The First Practical, Affordable PC

One machine that had a great influence on the design of Digital's 12-bit computers was the Laboratory Instrument Computer (LINC). This small stored-program computer accepted analog as well as digital input directly from experiments. It processed data immediately and provided signals that could be used to control experimental equipment.

The first version of the LINC, built in 1962 by Wesley Clark and Charles Molnar at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, was designed to control experiments in the interactive, hands-on environment of biomedical laboratories.

In 1966, Clark refined his design at Digital with Dick Clayton. Combining the LINC with a PDP-8, the LINC-8 executed both instruction sets in parallel, enabling it to operate I, at five times the speed of the original LINC at a lower cost.

The LINC system Digital manufactured included a sophisticated tape software system and a powerful CRT-based console. Priced at $43,000, the LINC-8 was the first practical, reasonably priced personal computer on the market.


LINC Software

On the early PDP machines, modular design ensured many alternatives for interconnecting computer components. By contrast, the LINC design was more restrictive, with a relatively modest primary memory and a single CRT. Limiting the system to a single configuration made it possible to provide a complete computing environment that included software users could easily exchange.

The LINC had its own file system, called LINCtape, the forerunner of the small floppy disk, which only became more widely available almost 10 years later, in 1971. When the system's designer, Tom Stockebrand, came to Digital from Lincoln Laboratory, he made changes to LINCtape, which was renamed DECtape. It was a great improvement over existing tape systems, which often had to be rewound several times and sometimes destroyed data.

Historical Notes
See DEC 12 Bit Time Line

This Artifact

Interesting Web Sites
  • LINC at DigiBarn (October 2007)

Other information

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Updated October 2007