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.

The Parking Meter Turns 75

South 24th St, Omaha, Nebraska, November 1938

The first hundred and fifty parking meters went into operation on July 16, 1935. They were installed in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to prevent people from casually leaving their cars parked on the street in front of businesses -- sometimes for days on end. There was an immediate backlash from residents and even a court case contesting their legality. However, stores on the city blocks with meters reported increased business and soon every store wanted them outside their doors.

The rise of the parking meter paralleled the dramatic increase in automobile ownership in the mid-20th century. Increased traffic resulted in extreme congestion in downtown business districts, and at first meters seemed to be the ideal solution.

Some inventions have unintended consequences, however. The parking meter -- combined with post-war prosperity in the USA -- helped to spark widespread interest in suburban shopping malls. The first modern enclosed mall, Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota opened its doors in 1956. It was ringed by a seemingly endless parking lot that offered unlimited free parking and easy access to nearby freeways. Suddenly, downtown businesses found themselves in a tail-spin. Metered parking isn't nearly so attractive when streets are half empty and your former customers are miles away, shopping in air conditioned comfort.

These days, millions of parking meters remain across the United States, although many are being phased out in favor of easier-to-police electronic ticketing stations. It will be interesting to see whether the lowly parking meter lives to see 100.

Incidentally, there is still angle parking along South 24th Street in Omaha, Nebraska (shown above in 1938). However, the parking meters are long gone.


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