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Mechanical Brain machines, 1950-1965.

 File — Box: 38-39
Identifier: #189

Scope and Content Note

From the Collection:

The Berkeley papers contain correspondence, notes, memoranda, lists, reports, reference material, financial records, publications, and photographs relating to Edmund C. Berkeley and Berkeley Enterprises. The earliest records in the collection relate to his insurance work, the applications of symbolic logic and computing machines to business, the formation of the Association for Computing Machinery, and his military service at Dahlgren. Later records focus on the publications and operations of Berkeley Enterprises, as well as Berkeley's social activism.

While the collection reflects Berkeley's eclectic interests, there are a few subjects that are prominent, such as robotics, social action groups of the 1960s, mathematical and logic games, and computing. Material relating to robotics and teaching machine development at Berkeley Enterprises includes notes, manual drafts, circuit diagrams, and correspondence on development and sales, as well as a few examples of the robot kits and teaching machines sold by the company. The day-to-day business of Berkeley Enterprises is also well documented through memos, financial records, and correspondence. There are some book drafts and a preponderance of background research material. LISP files contain manual drafts and computer printouts, but little correspondence.

Berkeley's interest in social action is demonstrated in files containing information on approximately 175 different organizations including files on SANE that document the growth of and relationship between peace groups in the 1960s. The photographs are largely of Berkeley, computing machines and components, and robots. The videotape was produced by the ACM in 1988 and features an interview of Berkeley.

Correspondents of note include Patrick J. McGovern, Norman Cousins, Linus Pauling, Corliss Lamont, Ivan Sutherland, Menachem S. Arnoni, Ivan Borisov, Svet Lavrov, Florence Luscomb, Hyman Ruchlis, and Richard Ruopp.

In the container list, C Ais Computers and Automation,BEis Berkeley Enterprises, and ECBis Edmund C. Berkeley.

The bulk of the collection is Edmund Berkeley's chronologically arranged numerical subject files. Dates in the Numerical Subject Files reflect the date of filing rather than date of contents, although they generally correlate with each other. The original folder headings have been retained in the list; an elaboration is provided in parentheses when appropriate. This series contains a wide array of material, including correspondence, memos, notes, publications, articles, and sometimes even artifacts.

Berkeley originally used a filing system consisting of nine classifications:

From the Collection:
  1. 1. Philosophy
  2. 2. People
  3. 3. Accounts
  4. 4. Mathematics
  5. 5. Notes and references, information
  6. 6. Jobs and projects
  7. 7. Religion
  8. 8. Compositions, reports, writing
  9. 9. Miscellaneous accounts of property, achievements, notes
From the Collection:

These categories were subdivided numerically, and some further subdivided numerically or alphabetically.

Around 1953 he revised this system and simply used consecutive numbers as new subjects were filed. This leads to some confusion, particularly with his use of hyphenated numbers that appear on the file folders. In many cases users of this collection must check two possible number combinations for the same subject (e.g. the subject of 4-11 is similar to 411). However, the use of hyphens is not consistent; for example, while 4-11 is similar to 411, 4-12 is not similar to 412. In the former case, users should check classification number 4 (mathematics and symbolic logic) and 411 (symbolic logic and boolean algebra in accounting.

The number 8was used to denote supply file(i.e. copies of an item reproduced for distribution). In the early years, memos and reports for Prudential were the only items to use this category, and the numbers following the 8were consecutive by date of production. Later, there were memos and reports on almost every subject, and the number following the 8denoted the subject. Most of the Prudential memos and reports were filed as #8; later materials have been filed under the second number (e.g., #8-108 is under #108). The number 5was used to designate notes. When the 5is followed by a dash and another number (e.g., 5-10), the materials have been filed under the second number, which denotes the subject.

Often Berkeley used letters to denote subcategories, but his use of them was very inconsistent. Some numbers were used for two different subjects, and these subjects are listed separately under the number.


  • 1950-1965.


Language of Materials



CBI holds the copyright to all materials in the collection, except for items covered by a prior copyright (such as published materials). Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Charles Babbage Institute Archives Collecting Area

Elmer L. Andersen Library
222 - 21st Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55455