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.

Apple 1? Pssh. How About An Old Brand Name?

Your choice

You may have seen that Christie's is about to sell an Apple 1, which the famed auction house estimates will go for a whopping $160,300 to $240,450. It's certainly a fascinating bit of history, especially considering it comes with its original packaging, invoice, owner's manual and a typewritten letter from Steve Jobs himself (the return address is his parents' house). But I might humbly suggest that a $150-$200 Briel Replica 1 or even an emulator are more cost-effective ways to compute like it's 1977.

But if you still have the auction itch and want to scratch it, have you thought about bidding on an old brand name?

On Dec. 8 in New York, a firm that has bought up classic trademarks over the years is selling them off to the highest bidder. Up for grabs are names including Braniff International airline, Collier's magazine and Old Nick candy bars. There are names Retro Thing readers might like, including Victrola and Computer City. And there are also some decidedly non-retro names available, including the defunct search engine Infoseek and Allied Signal, a name that only existed for about a decade and a half. There is also Bobby Socks and Hot Pants, terms I had no idea had been trademarked.

The auction sort of exposes what you probably already know: That the trusted brand name you see on the shelf may well have been bought by a startup business.

Among the 150 or so trademarks for sale, some are probably quite valuable (I could totally see Meister Brau becoming the next PBR) and others less obviously so (Relaxacizor? Really?). But the one that really got me thinking was General Cinemas, if only because I have such strong memories of its circa 1980s bumper animation.

I can buy it and start my movie theater empire! (There's money to be made in showing films in theaters, right?)


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