2011: A Tech Odyssey

Ahh 2011, brought to you by Canadian Copyright Laws; tablet wars, Facebook fatigue, (anti)social media, what does that cloud look like?, A Space Odyssey (if you read the title slightly incorrectly). Where is tech going to take us? Before we start to look forward I thought we could look back…wayyyyyyy back to what is widely regarded as the first personal computer, the Kenback-1.

Available in 1971 for $750.00 the Kenback-1 ceased production in 1973 as the Kenback Corporation went under. This personal computer did not have “intel inside” (no microprocessor) and had 256 bytes of RAM, it was the flicks and switches that really said you that you were hardcore computing. About 40 were produced of which about 10 survive at a value of around $5000 (not a bad ROI).

If that is not enough to sell you on the Kenback-1, the ad from 1971 might have drawn you to personal computing.

So if you are looking at purchasing a new tablet, Blackberry, IPhone, Android or whatever new gadget hits the market in 2011, think back 40 years and think of how far technology has come in a relatively short period of time, are we really that far away from the Tricorder?

I would be interested to know if any Slawyers have had a Kenback-1 experience?


  1. No Kenbak-1 experience, but my first programing (first year university) involved using a punchcard machine to type hollerith cards. We then bundled the cards containing the source code with an elastic, and dropped them into a slot in a wall where mainframe operators ran the program. Minutes or hours later we would return to get a printout on wide continuous paper.

    And of course if you made an error, you had to redo the process. I recall sometimes when having trouble debugging a program, purposely inserting an infinite loop to see what was going on. That often showed the problem, but always resulted in nasty notes from the operator that had to manually kill your job.