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.

Big Trak Robotic Toy Vehicle

In the 80's, this was one of the gold standard bearer toys for me.  I didn't have one, but I thought that every kid who did was incredibly fortunate to have their house patrolled by a tank/dump truck/TV static generator/robot like Big Trak.

Big_trak_gfxDark grey Big Trak (white and called "bigtrak" in the U.K. for some reason) was a programmable toy vehicle put out by game maker Milton Bradley - apparently it was developed by everyone's rubber-keyboard superstar Clive Sinclair.  Video & handheld LED games were the rage at the time, but some of the microchip revolution made it into the brains of more traditional toys like this. 

The top panel of Big Trak has a membrane keypad where you program a sequence of moves & functions.  There is no readout or other feedback, so short of running the little program you have no way of knowing whether Big Trak will be successful in the stealthy mission you imagined, or instead will take a header off the patio steps.  You could also get an accessory trailer that dumps its payload on command.  Probably not the best way to deliver dad an opened can of beer, but perhaps he'd enjoy a high tech truckload of pistachio nuts - red, of course...

As always with tech toys, the manufacturer promised future expansion with details shrouded in secrecy.  KeypadIf you're tired of waiting more than 25 years for an official upgrade, some enterprising folks on the internet have reverse engineered Big Trak.  There are plans online for adding new parts, replacing old ones, and interfacing your new gear with decades old plasti-tech.  Take a look at the second link below just to appreciate how terribly clever the innards of Big Trak are.  It takes some real engineering oomph to reduce a sophisticated technological concept into an affordable toy.

Extensive Big Trak home page

Pimping your Big Trak


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