The Kenbak-1 And Apple 1 8-bit Personal Computers Had Soul!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

How quickly times change! Early personal computers offered basic computing and sold for hundreds of dollars but one can now own a supercomputer for as little as $15! There is no doubt that circuit board computing has got a whole lot cheaper since the advent of the Kenbak-1 and Apple 1!

The famous eye-catching $666 price tag of the Apple 1 was a pure marketing genius at the time, and the Apple 1 success set the tone for Apple's future success as a company. The Apple 1 personal computer was launched to market by Steve Jobs and fellow founder Steve Wozniak in 1976 and it was no doubt the most Hi-Tech computer of its time as it could be fitted with 8 kilobytes of memory. Not only the Apple 1 was one of the first machines to have a keyboard connector, but it was far smaller than competing computers plus the Apple 1 could be plugged into a regular home television.
The Apple 1 is thought of as the daddy of personal computers but were you aware of the personal computer called the Kenbak-1? The Kenbak-1 was an amazing early piece of technology that was invented in 1970 (exactly six years before the Apple 1) by John Blankenbaker. Just like Steve Jobs built the Apple 1 in his garage, John Blankenbaker built the Kenbak-1 personal computer in his own garage. The Kenbak-1 ran on a series of integrated circuits mounted onto a single circuit board and aside from being the world's first personal computer, the Kenbak-1 was groundbreaking because it used TTL logic instead of micro-programming. Microprocessors were not invented at the time so the inventor -John Blankenbaker - had to manufacture with chips his own central processing unit.
The Kenbak-1 was also an 8-bit machine but it used switches and lights as the input/output. It had 256 bytes of memory and a clock speed of about 1 MHz. The motherboard consisted of 132 integrated circuits, 2 power supplies (for +5 volts and -12 volts), 2 MOS shift registers (1024 bits each), and cooling fan; in original customized steel case with 3-prong power connector, the front panel with a toggle power switch, 12 incandescent lights, 15 push-buttons and various lettering including the name "KENBAK-1." The Kenbak-1 measure approximately 19.25 x 11.5 x 4.25 inches.
Interesting enough, the first ever Kenbak-1 and Apple 1 machines had a similar price tag: $666 and $750, in the case of the Kenbak-1. The first ever Apple 1 computer built by Steve Jobs sold in 2014 at a Christie's auction for $365,000, while one of the last remaining Kenbak-1s sold in 2009 on eBay for almost $45,000.

On a last note on computers, wouldn't you agree that learning a programming language greatly develops logical reasoning skills? Imagine how advanced and how many more geniuses we could have if children weren't only taught HTML and Microsoft Word courses!

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