Re: [midatlanticretro] John Blankenbaker's own Kenbak on ebay
There are some vintage computers still in operation , namely in the military, which still serve a purpose. One of my ol' timer buddies still makes a living as a consultant on the SEL machines that we designed, including some CDC Cyber's, out in Cali at the Space and Missile Center on Vandenberg AFB. The computer room alone is about 2acres large--with about 2doz systems. It's been in continuous operation since 1977 , serving the military and Nasa and as part of the SALT treaty.
You can read a short story and some pics are on here. I posted a question on ctalk sometime last year I think about what vintage machines that are still active and in operation, such as this site, - not counting people's or museum collections -
- Evan Koblentz wrote:
The same Scientific American issue Nov 1971 as two other personal computer ads
Specific to the SciAm from at or around late 1971:
Olivetti "Super-micro-computer" model P-602. Programs recorded on small magnetic cards, etc.
Hewlett Packard Model 10. A programmable calculator with customized I/O assignments, peripherals available
Granted these are evolutions of the desk calculator, but interface aside you can program these, etc. they're targeted to the home / small business / scientific market. They have memory, etc.
I accept that the Kenbak is different because it's a digital trainer-type computer with switches like a PDP system and provides access to the machine level memory addresses, not a calculator-type like the HP and Olivetti's whose function is more to perform custom math functions. The guts of the systems are all different from each other.
None of these had an ascii keyboard standard. The HP I think had an RS-232 and in theory someone could have used this with a teletype or terminal using the built-in printer port. Did the Kenbak have any ports?
Is the kitch difference between the Kenbak and the HP / Olivetti the fact that it's being sold by a small company and not a large one? I do find the Kenbak historical, very much so, but I believe that it's historical importance is over valued and the others under valued.
Is it all about price? Digital vs. Analog? Not a calculator interface? Toggle switches? Because it looks like a PDP's interface?
I guess you could call the Kenbak a first computer targeted to the home computer/student computer market without a calculator interface built in, and a PDP-type set of toggle switches for less than $1000?