The Kenbak-1 is little-known, but still considered the first "personal" computer! This is a re-creation of the 1971 computer.Designed by Adwater & Stir in United States of America
The Boston Computer Museum has awarded the designation of "First Personal Computer" to the Kenbak-1, a 1971 computer designed by John Blankenbaker. The Original Kenbak-1 at the Computer History Museu…Read More…
The Boston Computer Museum has awarded the designation of "First Personal Computer" to the Kenbak-1, a 1971 computer designed by John Blankenbaker.
The Original Kenbak-1 at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA
Shortly after I introduced my µKenbak-1 kit I started receiving requests for a full-size version. The electronics were not an issue, the schematics for the µKenbak-1 were fairly simple with only about 60 components. The issue was finding the case, indicator lamps, and keys from 1971.
Knowing the original Kenbak-1 only sold fewer than 50 units, I assumed the case was not custom-designed. After a small amount of Googling, I discovered the case used in the original was the "Grand Prix" enclosure from Bud Industries of Ohio.
Another quick search revealed that Bud Industries still exists! On a lark, I contacted their office and spoke to a very helpful woman named Jenene. She had worked at Bud since the 80s and was familiar with the Grand Prix case, but she told me that enclosure had been discontinued about the time she started.
I asked if they would be able to make a small run of the enclosures. She said they could not, but she would be happy to share the original engineering drawings! I told her about the history of the Kenbak-1 and how an original would sell for more than $30,000. She seemed quite pleased that their product had been used in something so historic.
So I took the 55 year old engineering drawings, cleaned them up, converted the fractional inches to millimeters, and found a metal shop willing to make a small number of these enclosures.
While the case is true to the original design, the electronics inside the replica are much more simple. It is operated by an ATMEL processor based on the open-source work of Mark Wilson of Christchurch New Zealand. It functions just like the original Kenbak-1, with some enhancements, such as a real-time clock, and the ability to connect via USB to a computer to upload/download code.
This item is extremely limited. Only 50 replica cases were produced and when they're gone, they are possibly gone forever. Due to the manufacturing process, there are some nicks and imperfections on the case. Nothing too bad, and it does add to the "vintage" look!
A spiral-bound operations manual and USB cable is included.
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