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"There's a tendency to think that maybe if we can just throw enough hardware at the AI problem, then evolution can take care of the rest. Certainly that's how God went about making us."
- Rudy Rucker

Neuristor  
  A solid-state computer component that mimics the human neuron.  

"Neuristor" is a term coined by visionary computer science engineer Hewitt Crane in his PhD thesis in 1958. The basic idea was that a solid-state device could mimic the characteristics of the human neuron. For example, it would offer a similar finite refractory period and lossless propagation. It's probably formed from "transistor" and "neuron".

They kept hooking hardware into him - decision-action boxes to let him boss other computers, bank on bank of additional memories, more banks of associational neural nets, another tubful of twelve-digit random numbers, a greatly augmented temporary memory. Human brain has around ten-to-the-tenth neurons. By third year Mike had better than one and a half times that many neuristors.
From The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by GP Putnam in 1966
Additional resources -

Roger Zelazny also used it in his Hugo Award-winning novella Home is the Hangman. The following quote is from a related 1976 story The Force That Through the Circuit Drives the Current:

That brain is actually functioning. I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it. Apparently, I fed it sufficient activity, it took in sufficient data… It formed its own paths. It did—learn.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

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