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.

"Joe 90" - Gerry Anderson Series That Gets Inside Your Brain

Britain's "Most Special Agent" inside the "Rat Trap".

I've had a lifelong love/befuddled relationship with the TV shows of Gerry Anderson. In the 60's he produced a string (heh) of wildly successful marionette adventure shows in the UK. His best known is undoubtedly Thunderbirds, but close behind would have to be Captain Scarlet and Stingray. The unearthliness of the puppet characters combined with some of the best miniatures work of the time has always struck an odd balance, but nothing is as odd as the storylines. What the internet should really look like.My friend Sam put it best when he said that it's as if two eight year old boys had written these TV shows starring the best toys in the world.

I just finished watching one of the lesser known series; Joe 90. This is Anderson's next-to-last puppet series of the 60's featuring characters with more realistic proportions than prior productions (puppets from Thunderbirds and before had disproportionately large heads to fit the large solenoid driven mouth mechanism). Everything about the visuals is top-notch, and the puppets do achieve some amazing moves. The characters are oddly static though as these new realistic figures were partially operated from below, rooting their feet to the ground. The characters are practically never seen walking, a fact that is very difficult to try to obscure through the shooting style.

No going out in the rain with your electrodes on, young man...The supreme oddity is the central premise of the series. Joe 90 is a nine year old boy who's adoptive father has a lab secreted below his cozy country cottage in the English countryside. The lab is home to BIG RAT (Brain Impulse Galvanoscope Record And Transfer) which lets the pair record the brain patterns of pilots, demolition experts, what have you... later transferring them into the brain of the 9 year old boy. Do I even need to add that Joe is an international secret agent?

When Joe puts on his special glasses, the electrodes within activate the brain pattern latent in his mind and he becomes an expert in whatever field the adventure requires. He's been down a collapsed mine, diffused a bomb, flown a fighter jet, and even performed brain surgery in his bespectacled guise. To think that I used to see my father as wooden and unyielding...He also has the habit of calling his dad by his first name when in "adult" mode. Dad is curiously nonchalant about putting his boy in harm's way. He'll occasionally raise an objection, but then acquiesce, "with those glasses on, you're the expert, son..."

It may sound as if I'm criticizing the show, but I'm actually not. While intended for children (and I guess as a kid it would have been fun to see a boy in total authority of a situation, while also killing slavic accented bad guys with his agency-issued pistol), I think that this show is really more for adults these days. It's just so wrongheaded that I find it a guilty pleasure on many fronts. The best thing is that you can find the official DVD release of the whole series for under twenty dollars on Ebay. Anderson's eye-popping model work along with mind-popping storylines have a way of imprinting themselves into your brain... even without a BIG RAT to do it for you.

Pick up the entire Joe 90 series on Ebay
BIG RAT - a Joe 90 fan site

related:
Johnny Sokko's Giant Robot cult series
Thunderbirds cigar bands from 1968
Forgotten puppet show from Astro Boy's creator

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