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.

Death to Blue LEDs

The blue LED is the bane of modern technology. They're suddenly everywhere; slapped onto the front of computers, stereos, kitchen appliances and even car stereos. The trouble is they're incredibly distracting, especially in low-light situations. Right now I have two of the little demons glowing at me in the gloom. I swear I'm wasting half my time glancing at them.

It turns out there are several good reasons for my dislike. Our eyes are unable to focus properly on blue light. While longer wavelengths such as red or green focus on our retina, blue converges slightly in front. The upshot is that blue LEDs are impossible to look at properly. They tend to blur in a perplexing "Am I having a stroke?" kind of way.

Many people (apart from case modders) argue that blue LEDs are too bright. They're right. Manufacturers were so excited about producing the little monsters that they rushed them to market in packages producing as much as 20 times the luminous intensity of "old-fashioned" red, orange and green models. That's why they light up the room. This over-the-top brightness is especially noticeable in low-light situations and with equipment that stays on all night. The bedroom or car is no place for a blue LED.

I suggest letting manufacturers know if they bother you. If enough of us band together and shout, they'll get the hint; blue is no longer new or cool.

As for me? I'm an electronics designer by trade, and you can rest assured there won't be any blue LEDs decorating my products in the foreseeable future. I promise.

More blue LED commentary:

No Rhapsody in Blue (Globe & Mail)
Backlash Brews Over Blue LEDs (Design Continuum)

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