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Deutsches Technikmuseum - July

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:


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Exhibit of the Month July 2014

Photo: In front the home-built computer with ten slide switches for input and ten luminous fields for output. In the background the box for the kit designed in the style of the 1960s.

Playful forward to the future: with the self-assembled PIKOdat © SDTB / C. Kirchner

"PIKOdat" - the first game computer in the GDR, 1969

At the end of the 1960s nobody on either side of the iron curtain had any notion of what a "computerized society" would look like. Computers were used almost exclusively in the commercial and scientific fields. People in the GDR were nonetheless convinced that computers were destined to play an important role in the future. 

That belief led to a toy learning tool being brought to market in 1969 which would introduce the younger generation to this new technology.

After assembling by the purchaser, this computer was really versatile

Manufactured by VEB (read: "state owned") PIKO in Sonneberg, Germany, the learning computer was priced at the princely sum of 69.50 GDR marks. Purchasers had to assemble the PIKOdat themselves before being able to use it. The device is programmed by means of cable plug-in connections. The input functions by means of ten "drawbars" (sliding switches), the output by means of 13 lights.

According to the instructions, 29 programs can be "plugged in". In order to implement the applications, the appropriate paper labels for the input and output needed to be put into place. In this way, you could turn the PIKOdat into a calculator, make it an automated quizmaster, play a computer game or even make a signal system for a model train. Young users could thus learn to deal with the basics of informatics: the binary system and Boolean algebra.

The PIKOdat displayed here once belonged to Jörg Schmalfuß, the current Director of the Historical Archives of the Deutsches Technikmuseum. Before the Berlin wall was built, he and his family moved from the GDR to West Germany, after which his grandmother, who had remained in the East, continued to regularly send him PIKO toys as gifts.