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.

Guitar Week: Sears Silvertone + Amp-In-Case


There was a time when the way for manufacturers to really reach America was by selling at Sears-Roebuck. Sears was host to many house brands, which meant that companies relabeled their products to fit the Sears family of products.  Even the venerable Atari 2600 got a boost as a rebadged Sears video game unit.

Rtguitarweeklogo2Sears used the Silvertone brand for their electronics, record label releases, and famously for a line of guitars. These were aimed at beginners, and were a low-cost way to get into playing acoustic and electrics. Guitar notables like Chet Atkins, Bob Dylan, even Metallica's James Hetfield got their start with a Silvertone axe. The guitars often included an instructional record (I have one, and the tutorials are positively incomprehensible!)

Sears_1963_ad The guitars were made by Danelectro (a brand that still make affordable guitars today), famously featuring "lipstick pickups" [while early 1960s Danelectros such as the Silvertone 1448 are highly prized today, the brand was also used to market instruments by Harmony, Kay, National and others - james] These pickups were low cost, and actually encased in surplus lipstick containers. The signature sound of these pickups is part of the Silvertone's continued interest to collectors. Some models had a little 5 watt tube amp & speaker built right into the case. Folks still love this unique combo.

The Silvertone has even been used on stage by professionals. Melissa Ethridge uses one. Back in the 60's The Who's Pete Townsend would play one, at least until he smashed it on the stage. YAmpup, those famous destroyed guitars were sold next to Kenmore dryers and Die Hard car batteries.

The 1960's models are prized by collectors today (maybe because Townsend smashed so many), and there are several website devoted to their restoration and repair. Feels kind of funny to lavish this kind of attention on a guitar that originally retailed for around $70. This is one instance of design shortcuts creating a sound that's still interesting today.

Website specializing in restoration and sales of Silvertones
Some more background on Sears archive site
Fan site by a lifelong enthusiast


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