Teach Your Kids Computing With This Toy From 1972

Illustration for article titled Teach Your Kids Computing With This Toy From 1972

You’d think that toy computers would have reached their height in the last decade. This Playskool Play and Learn Computer is from 1972 and is a spectacular reminder that a) everything is toyable and b) computers have always been our future.


Here’s the description from the Etsy page selling it (only $31.99!):

Designed like a mainframe computer this mechanical toy uses no batteries to compute if child has correctly found the answer!

Five double sided cards included. Rhyming words, rhyming pictures, beginning sounds, telling time, add facts, related objects, part of a whole, matching words to objects, and a blank card for child to fill out.

My favorite part is that it’s a toy computer made without any power source. It’s entirely mechanical.

[h/t Kelly Faircloth!]

Contact the author at katharine@io9.com.


Just to be historically/linguistically nitpicky, the word “computer” was originally used for non-powered, hand-operated calculating devices like slide rules or the similar cardboard-wheel calculators that aviators or military gunners used to compute courses and trajectories. It was also used as a job title for the teams of people (usually women) who were hired to perform complex calculations by hand, assembly line-style, for scientific or industrial endeavors. The devices we use today were originally called electronic computers, but eventually the “electronic” was dropped and we forgot that the term had ever been used for anything else.

Obviously this toy was meant to be a simulation of an electronic computer. But there is precedent for computers without power sources.