Simon (computer)

Simon was a relay-based computer, described by Edmund Berkeley in a series of thirteen construction articles in Radio-Electronics magazine, from October 1950. Intended for the educational purpose of demonstrating the concept of digital computer, it could not be used for any significant practical computation given its memory was only 2-bits. In 1950, it sold for US$600. Some have described it as the "first personal computer",[1] although its extremely limited capacity and its unsuitability for use for any purpose other than as an educational demonstration make that classification questionable.

for the handheld electronic game that employs computer chips, see Simon (game).
Release date1950 (1950)
Introductory priceUS$600


The "Simon project" arose as a result of the Berkeley's book Giant Brains, or Machines That Think, published in November 1949. There, the author said:

In November 1950, Berkeley wrote an article titled Simple Simon for Scientific American magazine,[3] that described digital computing principles to the general public. Despite Simon's extreme lack of resources (it could only represent the numbers 0, 1, 2 and 3), Berkeley stated on page 40 that the machine "possessed the two unique properties that define any true mechanical brain: it can transfer information automatically from any one of its "registers" to any other, and it can perform reasoning operations of indefinite length." Berkeley concluded his article anticipating the future:[3]

Technical specifications

The Simon's architecture was based on relays. The programs ran from a standard paper tape, with five rows of holes for data. The registers and ALU stored only 2 bits. The user entered data via punched paper, or by five keys on the front panel. The machine output data through five lamps.

The punched tape served not only for data entry, but also as memory storage. The machine executed instructions in sequence, as it read them from the tape. It could perform four operations: addition, negation, greater than, and selection.


  1. What was the first personal computer? at Blinkenlights Archaeological Institute. Accessed: March 15, 2008.
  2. Edmund Callis Berkeley (1949). Giant brains; or, Machines that think. Wiley. pp. 22, 31. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  3. Berkeley, E.C. (November 1950). "Simple Simon". Scientific American. 183 (183): 40–43. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1150-40.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.