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.

16 rpm Talking Book of "Treasure Island"


Audio books, books-on-tape, or whatever you choose to call them are a booming business; some estimates as high as 2 billion dollars annually in the US.  Recent interest in audio books has been spiked by iPods and other portable electronic players, but before that audio books were a healthy enterprise on cassette.  They're a great way to lighten a lengthy commute, get some housework done, and catch up on classic literature that you might not otherwise read in book form.

The thing that might surprise some is that audio books go way back.  You could call a lot of children's albums audio books, but unabridged works have long been available on LP (either as a straight reading, or dramatized), many special recordings for the blind, and there was also this Talking Book series of recordings.

This 1958 set of eight 7" records follows the 45rpm form factor right down to the great big hole, but these discs spin at 16rpm.  I estimate that each side of a platter would take some 15 - 20 minutes to play at that speed, so the set lasts for four hours.  Voice giant Hans Conried (Snidely Whiplash, Disney's Captain Hook) reads this unabridged "Treasure Island", and other sets in the series featured Basil Rathbone, John Carradine and Ronald Coleman.

I haven't heard these as my only 16rpm turntable isn't here.  I'd like to give the Talking Book a spin (sorry) as I've never read "Treasure Island", and both Conreid's impeccable diction and sinister growl might be the best way to enjoy it.

Conried's voice credits


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