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.

Casio Keyboard/Tape Copier/Shortwave Radio

Looks way more serious than it is.

We've talked a lot about convergence, the oft nutty combo of various useful devices into one quizzical device. We've also shared a few holy grail collectible Casio keyboards. So here's an item that's both. The Casio CK-500 is not a boom box as widely mis-reported on the net. It's a regular flat-laying Casio keyboard that happens to sport dual tapedecks and a radio receiver.

It's not much editability, but it helps. The keyboard is nothing special - it's the same guts as their MT-68. It's got those same lovable analog "blip blip" rhythms that you fell in love with on the organ at your grandma's. The tones aren't anything really remarkable either, though the built in mixer to adjust the volume on the various automated parts of your performance are a nice touch. To get started, just hit a punch-button to dial up your instrument sound, then select between a dozen rhythms and auto-accompaniment styles.

The real eye-catcher here is the dual-well stereo tape deck. The A & B decks are switched from where you might expect them to be, but you can still easily dub tapes (though not with a single touch as many decks of the era). Now if we could only figure out those cool turntablist tricks on dual tape decks.The buttons ka-chunk satisfyingly into place - no servos here! Another interesting aspect is that the radio features AM, FM, and shortwave. So if you've got six D cells tearing a hole in your pocket, you can bring the CK-500 along on your boat or while you're DXing around the country, and not miss any of the thrills of shortwave radio.

I'd play you something nice, but the power supply isn't in a cooperative mood. I realize that the keyboard is in its 20's, but c'mon... I have much older Casio gear that's never had a problem. It looks like you can't play along to a tape as the selector slider is mutually exclusive of those two options. I would imagine that you can record your keyboard performance onto a cassette, but it's too bad to not be able to jam along to your favorite tunes on the radio or on a tape.

It's actually not too bad an idea. If the tape decks worked as they're supposed to, you'd be able to build up layers of sound by playing along with music you'd previously recorded. It worked for the Beatles...  Today it would need to come with sateliste radio too.I could also use a little more real-estate in the keyboard area, but I guess that this gadget was really intended for smaller hands than my own. Smaller hands with an interest in shortwave, I hasten to add.

Today my fear would be that some record company somewhere would find a way to show that your playing along with the radio, or dubbing your keyboard performance on top of a commercial tape will cost them millions of dollars. If some of those folks had their way, we'd be headed for a future with no "record" button, so I guess that I'll just hang on to my CK-500 a bit longer.

Rare Casio double-decker sampler + keyboard

Casio SK-1 sampling keyboard... in pink!
Kermit The Frog - SK-1 Sampling Keyboard


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