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.

Pioneer Musiqube Compact Stereo

Musiqube_02

I first saw the Pioneer Musiqube in 1999 at... um... Toys R Us.  I fell in love with this stereo that was no more than a row of 6" cubes but the $300 price tag, and the poor reputation of mini systems at the time made me leave it behind.

Flash forward to my 30th birthday.  I learned that the Musiqube was actually a decent little system and Pioneer's closeout website had it for $30, and the MiniDisc add-on (the red cube above) for an additional $30.  That numerology was just too powerful to ignore, so I got the last Pioneer Musiqube in the US (much credit to Pioneer - I received a broken component which they repaired for free all in time for my birthday).

It does all the regular mini-system things; CD, MD, Radio, even an Aux input.  It even came with a "soundscape" MD with pre-recorded loops of crickets & surf & other ambient sound.  When in "soundscape" mode, these loops layer with whatever CD or radio you might be listening to.  Weird feature.

The 30 watts aren't going to peel the wallpaper, but for grooving on tunes in my office, it sounds great.  Perhaps because the speakers are made of wood instead of plastic?  I don't have any science behind this idea, but it's a thought... the Musiqube sounds way better than lots of other mini systems I've heard.  Combined with the crazy "Rainbow Rave" (it was available in other colors as well) color scheme, I think that the Musiqube is irresistible - much like the candy it resembles.

Even though this system was out well into the Internet era, there is little data online about the Musiqube, save what I've posted online.  I haven't seen one on Ebay for years (I've bought a few systems as spares), so I guess that it's destined to disappear forever.  What a shame that only products intended for children take enough design risks to actually be a bit chic.

And before you ask, the thing on the left speaker is a fat little SDF Robocop windup toy, and on the right is a fallen postage stamp of Franz Kafka.  Now you know who my heroes are...

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