PIKO 0015

it's.. a calculator! a computer-hockey game! your private quizmaster! it's.. anything you program it to be!



PIKO elektrik

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The machine

PIKO dat

The PIKO dat is truly brilliant in its simplicity. Essentially it is just wires that can be connected in such a way that you create 'intelligence', and even though today's computers have a bazillion more logical gates than the 100 that are present in this machine, the principle remains the same. It is a computer, even though it lacks any micro-electronic parts*.

timing device

* Well, that is.. there is a small electronical circuit included (containing 2 transistors, a capacitator and 2 resistors) which functions as a timer; it is connected to the left-most lamp, and makes that the lamp goes out after about 20 seconds. It is there so you can play timed games. This circuit is not involved in the actual 'computing'. Also, this electronic circuit is the only part of the machine that is already put toghether in the factory.

battert case

The computer case is made of several pieces of grey plastic; you need to assemble everything yourself, even a thing like the battery case; you have a choice if you want to use 1 flat 4.5V battery or a series of 3 1.5V batteries (big ones). Also the shiny red push button ('die Taste') needs to be assembled from scratch.

The core of the machine is a board with many tiny holes in it in which you can connect with each other by sticking pieces of electric wire in them. In a way, you could say, this is the 'macro-processor'.

main board

Underneath the 'macro-processor' board there are copper connections, each connecting 3 holes. There are 10 long drawbars which run through the processor board. These drawbars also have bits of copper connected to them. By pulling and pushing the drawbars you change the connections in the board.

The drawbars are the 'input' of the machine. As there are 10 drawbars, each with an A (=Aus=off) setting and a E (=Ein=on) setting, you could say you have a 10 bit input. Just behind the drawbars there is a little space where you can put a cardboard strip with labels, so you can give a meaning to each drawbar.

On the other end of the machine are the lights; they are the 'output' of the computer. There are 13 lights, so there is a 13 bit output. The left-most lamp is the one connected to the timing device; when it goes on it will automatically switch off after about 20 seconds. Then there are 10 lights that each have a whole window. In the window on the right there are 2 lamps: one for 'richtig' (=TRUE) and one for 'falsch' (=FALSE). In front of the lights you can stick a cut-out piece of transparent paper to give meaning to each light.

The red push button is the main button. It's the only button..

input output

Since I haven't build my own PIKO dat - and I can't do that because then I would have to open the plastic bags - it is pretty hard to figure out exactly how these connections work and how they change when moving the drawbars. For those who'd like to find out, look into the manual, even though it is written in german, the pictures and schedules will probably clarify a thing or two if you have a talent for understanding electric circuits.

Also, for those who speak german, on these pages there is an explanation how the Kosmos Logikus works, the West German twin which is essentially the same (even though the Logikus is a decadent machine of the evil capitalist west, of course).