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Scientific Development Corporation Minivac 601
October 1961 Popular Science

October 1961 Popular Science

October 1961 Popular Science Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Popular Science, published 1872-2021. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

In his spare time, when not developing world-changing concepts of information theory, Claude Shannon designed this Minivac 601 programmable computer for students and hobbyists. It had 6 bits of data storage, implemented with electromechanical relays. Its output consisted of six incandescent lamps. Marketed by Scientific Development Corporation, advertisements for it appeared in magazines like Popular Science in the early 1960s. $85 in 1961 is the equivalent of around $885 today per the BLS CPI calculator, which is about what high end smartphones cost today. Since this ad is pitching a computer, let us perform a few simple calculations. Inflation from 1961 through 2024 represents a factor of 10.4 in 63 years, an average of 0.165x per year. Four short years ago the equivalent price was $731, representing a factor of 8.6 in 59 years, an average of 0.146x per year. Continuing, 0.165/yr ÷ 0.146/yr = 1.12, or a 12% increase in the last four years. Let me know if my math is wrong.

Scientific Development Corporation Minivac 601

Scientific Development Corporation Minivac 601, October 1961 Popular Science - RF Cafe - RF CafeMinivac 601 - RF CafeTwenty-Five Thousand Dollars in Research Time

... Nothing Like It On the Market

Minivac ®601

scientific exploration ... education ... experimentation at the 24" console of this amazing computer

Minivac 601

is a unique digital computer - the small computer - the small brother of huge electronic brains that are the newest tools of science and industry. Minivac has memory - it thinks ... it can even play games. It prepares teenagers and adults for the world of tomorrow.

Created as a private project by Dr. Claude E. Shannon, now Donner Professor of Science, MIT, and developed by the SDC staff, Minivac 601 is built of professional components to professional standards.

It opens the way to exciting experimentation with circuits that solve problems and make decisions. It enables you to duplicate control systems like those used in advanced missiles. You may program it to demonstrate data processing techniques used in business. Hundreds of experiments are contained in the booklets. But this is only the beginning. The only limit to Minivac's accomplishments is the imagination of the machine's master.


A complete set of 6 instruction manuals included. "Getting Acquainted with Minivac 601", "What is a Digital Computer?", "How Computers Make Logical Decisions", "How Computers Do Arithmetic", "How Computers Work for Man", and "Minivac Games".

Scientific Development Corporation

Consumer Products Division

372 Main Street, Watertown, Massachusetts


Scientific Development Corp., Consumer Products Division

372 Main Street, Watertown, Massachusetts


Please send free brochure giving complete information on Minivac 601 ... what it is ... what it does ... how it operates.

Name ____________________________________

Address ___________________________________

City _________________ Zone ___ State ____



Posted May 21, 2024

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