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.

Robot Fun Without Breaking the Bank

Hero jrI was thinking about the Heathkit HERO line of programmable robots last night. Heathkit released four different programmable models in the 1980s, and they were quite popular. Just imagine R2D2 crossed with a mid-1980s Epson dot-matrix printer and you'll have a fairly good idea what they looked like. Alas, there are no HEROs left. This is a pic of the HERO jr, which included a 32K ROM of "behavioral utilities" to control sensors, movement and even speech (although he was limited to a few pre-programmed phrases -- I wonder if "EXTERMINATE!" was on the list?)

There are some incredibly affordable little robot kits being made now. My favorites come from Parallax. Their little machines start at about $179 and contain simple Basic Stamp microcontrollers for programming. I know they're not as sexy as having your own R2D2, but I suspect they'll be even more fun.

Parallax Robot kits and controllers
HERO robot gallery


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