Murray Hill, N. J. Bell Telephone Laboratories, Incorporated January 10, 1954. [1-cover sheet], -12 leaves + 3 leaves of plates. 10 7/8 x 8 3/8 inches. Reproduced typescript. Stapled upper left, with four holes punched at the spine as issued. Plates in rear marked "Bo-361720", "B0-361721," and "B0-361-722" (the last partially cut-off at top). The text of the paper identifies these plates plus two photographs that were not present in Shannon's files. We have included a modern copy of the two photographs (of Model 2 of this device) taken from Sloane and Wyner's book.
The Filing Subject is "Switching Theory" Very Good. Wraps. 
"An experimental relay kit suitable for use in a college laboratory course in switching is described. Circuit diagrams are given for several circuits that have been set up on the machine. It is suggested that if such a kit were developed and made available to colleges, it would materially aid our long-range policy toward cultivating switching engineers." (abstract)
"An important perennial problem facing the Bell Telephone Laboratories and, in fact, the entire Bell System is that of recruiting a sufficient number of switching engineers. Until recently, practically no colleges gave courses dealing with this subject, and even now the number is very small. Many engineering graduates are hardly aware of switching as an important branch of electrical engineering, and one with any training in the techniques is a rare gift indeed. It has been necessary first to sell graduate engineers the idea of switching as a career and then to train them from the ground up. Bell Laboratories has not been unaware of these problems and has taken several important steps toward its solution ...The development of large-scale computing machines has 'glamorized' the field of switching and digital devices to a considerable extent ...This memorandum proposes another supplementary attack on the same problem." (first few paragraphs condensed)
The Memorandum describes a laboratory switching outfit that would allow students to develop practical skills alongside college courses. At an estimated $600 per unit in 1954 (before production cost reductions), it was a pretty big gamble, one which we are not sure ever came to fruition. This interest in mechanical teaching methods would reappear later when Shannon, Hagelbarger, and Edmund Berkeley consulted on various projects produced in kit form.
PROVENANCE: The personal files of Claude E. Shannon (unmarked). There were four examples of this item in Shannon's files, none with the two mentioned photographs.
Sloane and Wyner, "Claude Elwood Shannon Collected Papers," #85