Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Bohus Unleashes the $30 iPod HiFi Killer


This week Apple made one of their much ballyhooed announcements.  I don't mind when they earn their hype stripes by actually doing something cool, but what gets my goat is when they act like they've invented some perfectly ordinary thing.  This week they introduced the iPod HiFi, an amplified speaker system avaialble in the usual porcelain toilet finish. 

I'm sure that it's a nice sounding three speaker system for the iPod, but it inspired me to look around my house to see if I could reproduce the same thing for a lot less money..

Digisette MP3 Player

This MP3 player comes in models up to 256 megs, and can accomodate MMC flash memory. Pop it into a cassette deck, and any tape player will play MP3 music through your speakers. The cool bit is that when you hit fast forward on your tape deck, and the Digisette jumps forward to the next MP3 track, operating just like a large virtual cassette.

The Digisette is a really cool device, and still available (though expensive), though it seems that the time for a device like this has passed.  MP3 players are cheap and compact, and if your car still has a tape deck, an in-dash CD player that plays MP3's costs less than this thing.  Though the Digisette is the only device I know of if you want to play MP3's through some retro device that has only a tape deck as its input.  Hmm....

Gigantic Magnavox D8443 Boom Box


The aisles of any stores electronics department are lined with boom boxes, but often they lack any actual "boom". In the 80's when boom boxes were new technology, even the cheaper units could push out the decibels. This Magnavox D8443 is a bit of a holy grail among collectors, and it's easy to see why.

There are a lot of good ideas built into this jam box - five generous speakers, tape deck with metal tape setting, reliable tuner (with shortwave!), and best of all every knob goes up to 20.  Nigel Tufnel would be proud.

Weighed down with 8 D-cells it gets a bit heavy (and expensive) to operate, but the boom box does a great job of moving a lot of musical air (let's keep the rude jokes down...).  Most important the Magnavox puts out a nice strong signal without distorting - even at high volume levels.

So basically I've reproduced (perhaps supplanted?) the iPod HiFI by dropping my Digisette into the Magnavox.  The iPod has better navigation of MP3 tracks, but not $400 better!  My total outlay is about $30 in thrift store dollars, and I would love to pit my system versus the expensive Apple alternative someday.  Volunteers?


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