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.

Wagner Portable Personal Clothes Dryer

 Sheet metal + woodgrain sticker + door that looks like a radar scope. Hello U.S. design sense!

One of the things I miss as an apartment dweller is hanging my clothes outside on the line to dry. Your clothes end up smelling terrific (depending on the neighborhood, I guess), they last longer, and best of all - it doesn't cost anything! Years ago some neighbors would look at me askance when I would do such a thing (Is it so déclassé to hang one's underwear outside?), but now lots of people are yapping about outdoor clothes drying like it's a new idea. It takes a worldwide financial crisis to de-stigmatize the time honored of drying clothes without electricity?

I'm sure that appliance manufacturers are a bit uneasy thes days. What if people get the idea they might not need a clothes dryer? Or perhaps by using it less, their current unit lasts 15 years instead of 8? Sure a new dryer might be more energy efficient than an older one, but is there anything that manufacturers can do to make dryers even more energy effective? The answer came decades ago from Wagner in the form of the Personal Clothes Dryer.

WNo use in complicating things...hen I first saw this, I seriously thought it was a homemade toy dryer for doll's clothes. It's only about a foot high by a foot and a half long. The tiny door hinges open so you can throw in a few - and I do mean a few - pieces of wet laundry. If you can't tell from the photos, it's small. Really small. Possibly too small for even a single T-shirt. You can dry a couple pairs of underwear... or one really great big set of underpants if you're so equipped.

There are no details on the dryer revealing how much wattage the mini-beast uses, so I gathered my courage to plug it in. The 1960's-ish (I'm guessig here...) Wagner is very simple - choose from three temperatures of buffeting, and a clockwork timer halts the heat & spin. I put it on the lowest setting, and the streetlights went dim. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but besides the ancient electronic stink coming from a motor that probably hasn't stirred in decades, turning up the juice did seem to affect the rest of the household. Best to dry my bandana over the shower rail.

Oh no! My fake woodgrain is clashing with my real woodgrain! I could find no reference to this dryer on the internet. So for what it's worth, this is another Retro Thing scoop! Who was this marketed to? Taking along on road trips to dry small articles washed in the motel sink? Perhaps it's gentler on ladies' unmentionables than a regular dryer? Whatever it is, the Wagner definitely dries clothes - just it dos so a little at a time.

Today I could see a manufacturer making a lot of noise about a dryer that fits under your arm. At this size, it almost doesn't matter how efficient the motor is. You're only going to run it for a short session with only a few pieces of laundry, so it could leave a consumer with the illusion of being energy efficient. Will a unit like this hit the market today in shiny green plastic sold under the name "Porta Active Dry N' Ready"? When it happens (and you know it will), you saw it here first.


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