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.

Forget Using Switches - Turn On Your Lights With A Duck

Whya duck? Whya no chicken? 
I remember that in the 80's or so, game shows started offering ugly brassy lamps as prizes. It wasn't merely an attempt to give homes that Raddison lobby aesthetic, there was an angle. Instead of a light switch, you merely touched the brass base of the lamp to turn it on. Subsequent taps would cycle the bulb through a couple levels of brightness before turning off.

These "touch lamps" didn't exactly send pull cords & twist switches into extinction... those are still the dominant way to add some lumens to any space. You can still find touch lights today, but they're an oddity for sure. Why did they fail? According to some folks at repairfaq.org, the underlying tech isn't super reliable. I'd add that having so many ugly examples of the species out there doesn't help the cause much either.

So what other crazy mini statues have one of these at their heart?So in waddles this brass duck. This fowl just sits there, like any other desk duck. People can admire him, wondering when your bird dog fetched you a rare pygmy ducky (which you had bronzed, of course). Imagine their surprise when you give the duck a tap and the lights come on. Secreted into the base is a 1986 "Touch On Light Control", wired up to the metal of the mallardy maquette. Tickle him under the chin (or anywhere else), and it'll activate a lamp that's connected to the special plug.

I had a spot all picked out for ducky, but sadly he doesn't work. Initially I thought that it was because the unit will only work with incandescent bulbs, and I have a lot of CFL's around. I tried it with a regular bulb, and nada. Alas, quacky is back to being just a statuette again instead of covert light switch.

As little as I like the original version of the brass touch lights, I like this little oddity that I can connect to my own lamps. It would be cool to have light switches disguised as statuary around the house. Maybe a little brass flowerpot for the back porch? A skillet for the kitchen? Or famous monuments like The Statue of Liberty (just touch the torch)? Never mind. Someone would want to use Michaelangelo's David to turn on the lights and I hate to think of what part you'd have to flick.

How to repair your own touch switch lamp (or touch switch duck)


Lava Lite + kitschy telephone
Dining room lamp mystery
The poultry that changed Atari history forever


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