“The LINC (Laboratory Instrument Computer) has been used in this research. This is a small, general-purpose high speed digital computer especially designed for on-line collection (that is, collection directly by the computer) and real-time (that is, processing data at least as fast as they are generated) of experimental data in the biomedical laboratory…A typewriter keyboard provides direct access to the processing unit of the computer. Two magnetic-tape units provide both storage and retrieval functions, and a cathode ray oscilloscope, resembling a television screen and capable of displaying easily readable statements is an integral part of the LINC.”
Fifty years ago, we reported the advantages of a computer interview for suicide risk assessment.(2) The computer had grown to a LINC – 8 that combined a LINC computer with a PDP-8 permitting programs written for either architecture.
But the process was the same: tapes spun and whirred, lights blinked and questions and information appeared on the tiny cathode ray oscilloscope, blinking more with each added word – favoring terse phrasing. Patients responded using the keyboard and reports were printed on the 10 character per second teletype. It worked well, never tiring, going at the patient’s pace, presenting procedurally invariant questions and branching contingent on each response. Patients rapidly overcame any anxiety and read and pecked through the assessment, often commenting aloud as well.