The Logo Memos

An Index to MITs Research on Logo and Turtle Graphics

The Logo Memos were a series of Research Papers written by various people at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab from October 1971 to December 1981.

This list was compiled by Andru Luvisi.

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Grey Walter’s Turtles

Grey Walter’s Tortoises Prequel to Educational Robots

William Grey Walter (1910 – 1977) was an American-born British neurophysiologist and robotician.  Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1910.  He was brought to England and worked in London hospitals in the field of neurophysiology.  From 1939 to 1970 he worked Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol.  Between 1948 and 1949 Grey Walter designed and built two robots called Elmer and Elsie which he called tortoises.   These were autonomous creatures that could exhibit so basic behaviours in response to their environment and internal state.  In honour of this work Seymour Papert called the Logo robots Turtles. (American English call tortoises – turtles).   In this post you will find a number of videos showing Grey Walter’s work.

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LOGO Ambulatory Executor – Turtle Robot

Historical Record of the Turtle Robot Development

In 1969 Professor Mike Paterson was young English Computer Scientist visiting Bolt Beranek and Newman.  Seymour Papert gave him the task of writing a specification for the first educational robot, which was initially referred to as the LOGO ambulatory executor and more prosaically as the Bug.  Later named the Turtle in reference to Grey Walter’s early work with Tortoise Robots.  This is the first of two documents by Mike relating to the development of Turtle Educational Robots.  This document was provided by Wally Feurzeig of BBN Technologies who led the project that invented Logo.

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Logo the Navy Report

In the mid to late 1960s computers were starting to become available. These were in the form of a Programmed Data Processor or PDP made by the Digital Equipment Corporation or DEC.  Computer languages were being developed.  It was in these circumstance that Seymour Papert invented Logo – a computer language designed for children.  The idea for this child friendly language arose during a blue sky development project undertaken by Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) Technologies for the USA Navy.  The project was aimed at finding ways computers could be used to train navy personnel.  Wally Feurzeig who led the project did deal with the Navy’s programme manager Glen Bryan.  When approached about the idea of spending Navy cash in this way Bryan suggested that it would be ok to work with what he called “Military Brats”.  So in 1967 a project was started at the Hanscom School on the Hanscom Air Force Base in Lincoln, MA.  The final report for this project was sent to the Navy in March 1969 and was written by Feurzeig and Papert.   The relevant part of the report is attached to this post as a pdf.