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 Marvelous MicroVision Handheld Videogame


The MicroVision was released by Milton Bradley in 1979. It has the distinction of being the first cartridge-based handheld gaming unit with an LCD display. I'm happy to say that I spent a few minutes playing with one of these when I was a kid, because very few still work today. LCD technology was in its infancy in the late 1970s, and the MicroVision's crude 16 x 16 pixel monochrome LCD display suffers from screen rot, often resulting in a forever-darkened display, even if the rest of the unit works perfectly.

The main unit was little more than a housing for the display, batteries, switches and knob controller -- the brains of each game was a combined microcontroller/memory chip inside the clip-on game cartridge itself. This enabled the manufacturer to use different microcontrollers depending on the complexity of the game, and MB used both the 4-bit TMS 1100 and 8-bit Signetics/Intel 8021. Each cart contained 2 KB ROM and 16 bytes of RAM (partitioned as 32 4-bit nibbles).

The carts were extremely susceptible to damage from static discharge, making each cartridge swap a potential game of Russian Roulette. A total of 13 titles were released between 1979 and 1981, including the Block Buster pack-in cartridge. The MicroVision was a brilliant concept that was a few years ahead of technology, as Nintendo was to prove a decade later with the smash-hit Game Boy and Tetris.

Trivia for those who stuck with me through this entire post: The MicroVision was designed by Jay Smith, who went on to design the astoundingly cool Vectrex game system.

Milton Bradley MicroVision info (handheldmuseum.com)


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