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The history of the teaching machine often focuses on two devices – or rather, on two psychologists who invented them: Sidney Pressey and B. F. Skinner. The story of these mechanical devices is told often as simply the prelude to computer-assisted instruction. “Computers are now much better teaching machines,” Skinner himself admitted in Science in 1989 (although he added that most of CAI does it wrong).

As I plan to focus on the mechanical teaching machines, not the later digital ones, I thought I’d write down a longer list of devices and start to collect images, pricing, description. (I have created a separate page here on this website which I will update as my research continues.)

This initial list is drawn from “A Survey of Auto-Instructional Devices” written by Felix Kopstein and Isabel Shillestad of the USAF’s Aeronautical Systems Division and published in September 1961. The categories for these machines are theirs: Skinner’s, Pressey’s, Norman Crowder’s, and Gordon Pask’s formats. They too end their survey with a look at the computer as a teaching machine.

Kopstein and Shillestad note that their list is not exhaustive, and I think there are some that I might add (and perhaps some I might remove) as I move forward on this book project. (I do feel duty-bound, as a Spencer fellow, to include Lyle Spencer’s SRA cards.)

Skinner Machines


Disk Machine

  • Date: 1954
  • Originator: B. F. Skinner
  • (Not commercially available)

Foringer Teaching Machine No. 2002

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator and Manufacturer: Foringer & Co
  • Cost: $80

Didak 501 Automated Instruction Device

  • Date: 1959–60
  • Originator and Manufacturer: Rheem-Califone Corporation
  • Cost: $157

Auto-Scanner

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: A. Ugelow, Behavioral Sciences Laboratory
  • (Not commercially available)

Porter Device

  • Date: 1957
  • Originator: D. Porter, Harvard University
  • Manufacturer: Foringer & Co
  • Cost: $80

Min-Max Machine

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: D. E. Cornell
  • Manufacturer: Teaching Machines Inc
  • Cost: $20

Program Scanner

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: Earlham College Self-Instruction Project
  • Manufacturer: Dyna-Slide Company
  • Cost: $39.50

Visitutor Card Model

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: W. Rozmus, Hamilon Research Associates Inc and Blythe, Godcharles and Jacobson, Hamiliton College
  • Manufacturer: Hamilton Research Associates Inc
  • Cost: $100

Multiple Sensory Stimulation Trainer (US Navy Device X11H20)

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: R. S. Bushnell, US Naval Training Device Center
  • (Not commercially available)

Sequential Integrated Block Teaching Machine

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: J. Gilpin, Bell Telephone Laboratories
  • (Not commercially available)

Visible Card File

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator: R. M. Gagne, Princeton University
  • Cost: $1.65

Programmed Text

  • Date: 1958
  • Originator: L. E. Homme and R. Glaser
  • Manufacturer: Teaching Machines Inc
  • Cost: $5-$15

Wyckoff Film Tutor

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator: B. Wyckoff, Emory University
  • Manufacturer: Teaching Machines Inc
  • Cost: $445

Visitutor Film Model

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator: Blythe, Jacobson, and Godcharles, Hamilton College
  • Manufacturer: Hamilton Research Associates
  • Cost: Unknown

Auditutor

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: R. Hedderick, Hamilton Research Associates and Blythe, Jacobson, and Godcharles, Hamilton College
  • Manufacturer: Hamilton Research Associates
  • Cost: Unknown

Arithmetic Machine

  • Date: 1954
  • Originator: B. F. Skinner
  • (Not commercially available)

Arithmachine No. 1

  • Date: Unknown
  • Originator: D. Zeaman, University of Connecticut
  • (Not commercially available)

Arithmachine No. 2

  • Date: 1958
  • Originator: B. F. Skinner, S. Orlando, and D. Zeaman
  • (Not commercially available)

Sakoda’s Sortcard Automatic Tutor

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator: M. Sakoda, University of Connecticut
  • Manufacturer: Scientific Prototype Manufacturing Corp
  • Cost: $285

Devereux Teaching Aid - Model 90

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: E. A. Smith, Devereux School
  • Manufacturer: Smith-Harrison Inc
  • Cost: $49.50

Pressey Machines


Self-Scoring Multiple-Choice Device

  • Date: 1924
  • Originator: Sidney Pressey
  • (Not commercially available)

Multiple-Choice Response Device

  • Date: 1927
  • Originator: Sidney Pressey
  • (Not commercially available)

Automatic Teacher

  • Date: 1932
  • Originator: Sidney Pressey
  • Manufacturer: Welch Manufacturing
  • Cost: $35

Drum Tutor

  • Date: 1945
  • Originator: Sidney Pressey and the US Navy Special Devices Center
  • (Not commercially available)

Atronic Tutor - Model 680

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator and Manufacturer: General Atronics Corporation
  • Cost: $150

Tester-Rater Self-Tutoring Punchboard Device

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator: Sidney Pressey
  • Manufacturer: US Printing and Novelty Company

IBM Punch-Card Self-Teaching Device

  • Date: 1958
  • Originator: Sidney Pressey and C. Willey
  • Manufacturer: IBM
  • Cost: Unknown

Devereux Teaching Aid - Model 15

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: E. A. Smith, Devereux School
  • Manufacturer: Smith-Harrison Inc
  • Cost: $15

Devereux Teaching Aid - Model 50

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: E. A. Smith, Devereux School
  • Manufacturer: All American Engineering
  • Cost: $90

Devereux Teaching Aid - Model 80

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: E. A. Smith, Devereux School
  • Manufacturer: Smith-Harrison Inc
  • Cost: $110

Subject-Matter Trainer

  • Date: 1955
  • Originator: G. C. Besnard and L. J. Briggs, US Air Force
  • (Not commercially available)

Card-Sorting Device

  • Date: 1958
  • Originator: L. J. Briggs, US Air Force
  • (Not commercially available)

Sequential Programmed Electronic Education Device (SPEED)

  • Date: 1958
  • Originator: Arthur Y. Baker
  • Manufacturer: Education Engineering Assoc
  • Cost: $400–850

Osler-Foringer Discrimination Device No. 1231

  • Date: Unknown
  • Originator: Sonia Osler
  • Manufacturer: Foringer & Co
  • Cost: $850–1300

Audiovisumatic Teaching Device

  • Date: 1958
  • Originator: K. U. Smith, University of Wisconsin
  • Manufacturer: Unknown
  • Cost: $300

Crowder Technique


Western Design Autotutor Mark I

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: Norman Crowder
  • Manufacturer: Western Design and Electronic Company, US Industries Inc
  • Cost: $3000-$5000

Western Design Autotutor Mark II

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: Norman Crowder
  • Manufacturer: Western Design and Electronic Company, US Industries Inc
  • Cost: $1100

Scrambled Text

  • Date: 1968
  • Originator: Norman Crowder
  • Publisher: Doubleday & Co
  • Cost: $3.95

Multipurpose Instructional Problem Storage Device (MIPS)

  • Date: 1955
  • Originator: L. J. Briggs, US Airforce and E. S. Walker Hughes Aircraft Company
  • (Not commercially available)

Self Organizing Systems


Solartron Automatic Keyboard Instructor (SAKI)

  • Date: 1958
  • Originator: Gordon Pask
  • Manufacturer: Rheem-Califone Corporation
  • Cost: $3000

Eucrates

  • Date: 1956
  • Originator: Gordon Pask
  • Manufacturer: Solartron Electronic Group
  • Cost: $15,000-$20,000

Audio-Visual Machines


Automatic-Loading Daylight 16mm Sound Film Viewer (Handy-Dandy)

  • Date: 1956
  • Originator and Manufacturer: Polan Industries
  • Cost: $4000

Automatic Stepwise Tape Recorder (ASTR)

  • Date: 1958
  • Originator: J. B. Gilpin, Earlham College
  • Cost: $750

Carroll Audio-Visual Auto-Instructional Device

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: J. B. Carroll, Harvard University
  • (Not commercially available)

A Microfilm Device

  • Date: 1961
  • Originator: D. J. Klaus and A. A. Lumsdaine, American Institute for Research
  • (Not commercially available)

Videosonic Teaching Machine

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: Hughes Aircraft Company
  • (Not commercially available)

Lear Operational Assistance and Instructive Data Equipment

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: Lear Inc
  • (Not commercially available)

The T–3 Educator

  • Date: 1961
  • Originator and Manufacturer: All American Engineering Company
  • Cost: Unknown

Digital Computers as Teaching Machines


IBM 650 Teaching Machine

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: G. Rath, N. Anderson, and R. Brainerd, IBM Research Center
  • (Not commercially available)

G–15 Computer Teaching Machine

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator: J. Coulson and H. Silberman, System Development Corporation
  • (Not commercially available)

RCA Teaching Machine Research Facility

  • Date: 1959–60
  • Originator: E. Gavurin, RCA Teaching Machine Research Facility
  • (Not commercially available)

Adaptive Teaching Machine

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: Applied Research Laboratory, University of Arizona
  • (Not commercially available)

LGP–30 Computer Teaching Machine

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: Bolt, Beranek, and Newman Inc
  • (Not commercially available)

Miscellaneous


Prototype Instructor-Free Package Course

  • Date: 1954
  • Originator: F. Kopstein, J. Cook, W. Potter, and H. Shettel, Air Force Personnel Training Research Center
  • (Not commercially available)

Generalized Electronic Troube-Shooting Trainer (GETS)

  • Date: 1956
  • Originator: N. Warren, D. Atkins, J. Ford, and H. Wolberts, Psychological Services Inc
  • (Not commercially available)

Optimal Sequence Trainer (OST)

  • Date: 1957–1959
  • Originator: H. LaPorte and D. Schuster, University of Southern California
  • (Not commercially available)

Malfunction and Circuitry Trainer (MAC Trainer)

  • Date: 1956
  • Originator: R. French and L. Martin, US Air Force
  • (Not commercially available)

Polymath

  • Date: 1957
  • Originator: E. Z. Rothkopf, Air Force Personnel Training Research Center
  • (Not commercially available)

Trainer Tester

  • Date: 1954
  • Originator and Manufacturer: Van Valkenburgh, Nooger and Neville Inc
  • Cost: Unknown

Air-OAO Device

  • Date: 1960
  • Originator: H. Shettel and A. A. Lumsdaine, American Institute for Research
  • (Not commercially available)

Didak 101 Pre-Verbal Machine

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator and Manufacturer: Rheem-Califone Corporation
  • Cost: Unknown

Self-Correcting Exercises

  • Date: 1959
  • Originator: P. B. Diederich, Educational Testing Service
  • (Not commercially available)

(If you have any more information about these devices – including photographs – or if you know of any others that should be included, please let me know.)

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Audrey Watters


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Teaching Machines

A Hack Education Project

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