12/19/14: 13th production run,                                              90 in stock!     

Hi,

No doubt about it, the original Digi-Comp I is a rare item——in more ways than one. For example, there's the Yahoo group FriendsOfDigiComp... How many other educational toys can boast their own Internet fan club? Remarkable, considering Digi-Comp is 50 years old and has been off the market for nearly 40... Which explains why the originals (if you can find any) are so scarce, commanding $100 or more on eBay.

But perhaps the rarest thing about Digi-Comp is the combination of hands-on and minds-on fun it affords. It definitely still has things to teach*, like Boolean logic and problem-solving... and it's rewarding to build and use. That's why Minds-On Toys decided to reintroduce it in an affordable kit format, with a thorough and professional revamp of the original documentation.

If you remember the original Digi-Comp, Digi-Comp I v2.0 was created for you. Not to keep in a trophy case, but to use and especially to share——maybe with a son or daughter, niece or nephew, or any other learner in your life (older than 10 or so). We've pushed the limits of laser die-making and die-cutting, and succeeded! All the original functionality is there, with just a few design modifications and (ahem) small improvements. There's the satisfaction of building it by hand, following clear instructions, saving time and error using pre-engineered parts. And then, flip ahead to the Lab section of the manual... and let the problem-solving begin!

By the way, if you've only just learned about Digi-Comp from the Intro, better late than never! The new one's for you, too.

Digi-Comp I v2.0 is now available. The first run of one hundred kits was initially offered in November 2005 to members of the FriendsOfDigiComp group——and with their strong encouragement (see sample comments below), we've sold hundreds more and are committed to keeping the kit in production. Check the top of this page for inventory status.

Digi-Comp will take you a couple of hours to put together. No special skills are required, but youngsters might need a more experienced assistant to make sure it comes out right. All you really need on hand is a bit of white glue and a ruler; everything else is included.

· Components: Exactingly designed, materials carefully sourced: sturdy 80 point binders board, laminated with laser-printed high-gloss Kromekote, parts precision diecut into punch-out sheets; custom-formed steel rods; plus rubber bands, plastic tubes, implements, etc. See the Gallery for some glimpses of production methods.
· User Guide: Fully illustrated, step-by-step assembly sequence; over 30 experiments and challenges adapted from the best of the older material, interspersed with new informational sidebars. 48 pages, entirely rewritten from the ground up.
· Cost: $49 plus $8 shipping (USPS Priority) in the US. Check or PayPal accepted. Also available worldwide!

So take your time... have a look around... and see the Order page for further details.

                                                       Tim at Minds-On Toys


PS: DIRECT FEEDBACK FROM SOME EARLY ADOPTERS...

· "At first glance, Tim's done a TERRIFIC job. It's very professional - the manual is excellent and very readable... Price is right -- quality is good -- Yes, I'd recommend it."
· "I'm thrilled with the new version. It looks great and I don't worry about breaking it like I do with my original DC-1."
· "I have received and assembled my kit. It works great! ... The product is beautifully made and the instructions are very clear. [The illustrations] are very easy to understand and make assembly quite easy. I wish more illustrations were this good. At first, I had some trepidation about making this out of heavy bookbinder board, but that was quite misplaced. The finished unit looks remarkably like the original and brings back memories."
· "I ordered three of them, one for me, one for my son, and one just in case I wanted another... It goes together as promised, in a few hours, with remarkably clear and easy-to-follow instructions. The change in nomenclature ('input' and 'output' versus 'logic' and 'clock', for example) go a long way toward making it easier to understand. And, yes, it really works."
· "What a sweet little machine -- and what a clever reimplementation in cardboard. It sure beats this Unix workstation I'm hammering out code on, for plain old-fashioned fascination!"
· "Got my Digi-Comp today, and have it together and working... Thanks for doing such a great job putting this machine together, I cant wait until my son is old enough to learn how logic machines work."

THIS APPRECIATION (4/08) FROM A JAPANESE STUDENT...

· "My Digi-Comp I v2.0 was finally started flip-flop yesterday. It's only a tiny little flip in the world but big flip in my life. Thank you for your all the help and hope your further success in the future."

STEVEN LANDSBURG WRITES in The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics and Physics (Free Press, 2009)...

· "When I was a child, I had an absolutely wonderful toy called a Digi-Comp I; I'm delighted to see that after an absence of several decades, it is back on the market. ... A child with a Digi-Comp I is a child with a deep insight into what makes a computer work." 

*What does it teach?

Not a question we take lightly... but how to answer it? These days marketers seem to expect parents won't buy any educational toy unless it comes swaddled in awards and accompanied by edu-babble about "higher thinking skills" and the like. Chances are the parents haven't read up on metacognition—and the marketers take full advantage. Selling the sizzle, not the steak, is nothing new. Even the original Digi-Comp manual tended to get carried away. No one today would claim so reverently, as ESR did in 1963, that Digi-Comp is the "mechanical equivalent of an electronic digital computer" (probably quite a stretch, even back then). And is it still true, or was it ever, that "everything you learn on Digi-Comp can be used on large electronic digital computers"? Probably not. Today, there's no reason a 10-year-old can't sit down and learn HTML or VB on a real microcomputer. And that's fine—but it's not really what Digi-Comp is about.

What is it about, then? After months of playing (er, testing), we've concluded that Digi-Comp is an ingenious, transparent Logical Gizmo that can teach anyone about binary numbers and Boolean algebra, still fundamental concepts in digital circuitry. In an age when interfaces are all that most kids get to know about computers, when working mechanisms of any kind are getting harder to observe (much less get your hands on), we believe Digi-Comp's unique combination of mechanics and logic forges a unique kind of connection between hand and mind. Like many great educational toys, it challenges you to think. But like almost no other toy we know, it also literally puts you in touch with a way of thinking.

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