Developed by Irving Becker, who unfortunately died December 2005, the CT-650 was one of the earliest digital personal computers.
By the 1960’s he was developing many educational products including the Computer Trainer-650 and a cardboard kit for Bell Laboratories called “CARDIAC” (a reference to its cardboard construction and the names of other kits like Brainiac and Geniac).
Irving was dedicated to education and even made a special version of the CT-650 that was made for blind students. Aside from Braille lettering, the bulbs under each light were extra strong so as to generate more heat…that way the student could “read” the results by feeling which lights were lit.
The CT-650 is sometimes called the "paperclip computer" which is a reference to a 1967 book entitled How To Build A Working Digital Computer
. The book describes how to make a computer out of things one might find around the house...such as tin cans, screws, paperclips and even wooden spools of thread. The design of the CT-650 seems to have relied on the book's plans and, therefore, it is called the "paperclip computer".
The computer is 54" in length by 22" in depth. It was built for educational use with six clearly labeled sections:
- Core Memory
- Program Drum
- Input Unit
- Arithmetic Unit
- Control Unit
- Output Unit.
Some sources list this computer as the Arkay CT-650. That is incorrect but an understandable error. Like many who were involved with early computers, Irving Becker started off in radio. In 1945, he began selling radio kits (the original name of his company was “Arkay” which stood for the “R” and the “K” in “radio kits”). By the time that this computer was offered he was in the process of changing the name of the company from Arkay to COMSPACE.