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.

Saxton Astro Com A-1005 Wrist Broadcaster


Cell phones are great, but isn't the Saxon Astro Com what communication on the go was always supposed to look like?  Chrome face, single big knob, spindly antenna with ball at the end - to me this "wrist broadcaster" would look equally at home on the wrist of Dick Tracy as Flash Gordon.

If you've ever had a Radio Shack project kit, or a Mr. Microphone, you understand the principle.  Tune a nearby radio to a blank spot on the FM dial, then a little transmitter inside the mic can broadcast to nearby radios tuned to that frequency.  Quicker than you can say "streaming media bottleneck", you're on the radio with no FCC breathing down your neck - mostly because your potential audience is somewhere in the range of a 20 foot circle.

DrawingThe Saxton Astro Com is probably the slickest designed FM transmitter microphone I've ever seen.  It's got a nicely curved body to fit the contour of your wrist, a tuning knob to zero in on the broadcast frequency, and my favorite - a spring based antenna.  For the time it was made (whenever that may be), it's a surprisingly compact little unit.  Looking at it reminds me of a long standing question I've had - where are the wrist cell phones?

In the battle of personal communication, the custom of holding a phone up to the face has definitely won out over the somewhat cliched sci-fi wrist communicator form factor.  Cell phones are here to stay, but I think that it's less awkward to talk up one's sleeve than simply shout into the air as those bluetooth earpieces would have us do.  I'd rather wear one of these while I'm taking my atomic jetpack to work at the Extruded Foam Food Conglom.

Saxton_mic_01_moreminiBack to reality for a moment, I'd like to figure out what year the Astro Com is from.  The bottom of the unit only says, "Made in the British Crown colony of Hong Kong.  Pats. Pending".  I found the manufacturer referenced in a patent online for a phone related device, and also in a 1970's interview about covert surveillance devices (with a nice big picture of Dick Nixon too, har har...). 

From the aesthetics of the Astro Com it looks like it's older than the 1970's.  Any ideas out there?  Perhaps we'll never know.  It's pseudo-futuristic lines could come from years gone by, or perhaps it fell through a crack in time from the years to come.

Here's a kit to let you build your own wireless FM microphone.


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