In the 1970s, creativity met “Big Iron” in the Play ‘N Learn Computer from Playskool. Patterned after mainframe computers in use at the time, the toy was designed to help children with basic math, spelling, and matching skills.
The Play ‘N Learn was entirely kid-powered, with no need for winding or batteries to operate. Playskool included six double-sided “programming” cards and a carry handle for portability. Kids inserted a card, then used the left dial to select a question and the right to select their corresponding answer. By pressing the red reply button, they could activate an internal mechanism that spun the right reel to the correct answer.
Subjects on the programming cards included Matching Colors, Related Objects, Naming Colors, Part of a Whole, Matching Words, Matching Words to Objects, Matching Letters, Beginning Sounds, Telling Time, Rhyming Pictures, Adding Facts, and Rhyming Words.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.