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.

Remembering Erasable Pens

Who's the kid who scrawled our logo into his notebook?
Retailers are insane. As a kid I remember how bummed out I was seeing the school supplies come out, heralding the end of summer vacation. Around here it's been several weeks since larger stores trotted out the theme books and the #2 pencils. It's good to be prepared, of course, but holding a "back to school" sale in the single digit days of July? Crazy!

It was angrily stomping past these needlessly early displays that my eyes fell on a product I was surprised still existed; erasable ink pens. I first learned of  the Erasermate pen in 1980 when I was in 4th grade, and it became an immediate status symbol at my school. It was an early lesson for me that nothing in life is permanent, not even ink. It was a big deal to graduate from Husky pencils to turning in homework scribed in pen, and the Erasermate pen was about to turn that world upside down.

Mine was a refillable pen, but it wasn't long before disposables hit the scene. Putting aside the strangely strong smell, the inkflow was erratic, and the finished result smeared easily (lefties had no chance), forcing our teachers to put the whammy on this innovation. My writing is unstable enough without worrying about whether the ink is going to last or not, so I left the world of erasable ink behind.

Over the years, Papermate worked to improve the reliability of erasable ink, which they did. These new red pens write pretty much the same as a regular ink pen.  I've read that the secret was pressurizing the ink, meaning that at Erasermate can write at even steeper angles than a conventional pen. The erasing is less than perfect, but good enough. Funny thing is that I can't really think of a time to use erasable red pen. Accounting perhaps? When I was a teacher, I would have feared my students modifying their grades through careful erasure. Perhaps that's why the red ink doesn't disappear 100%? Too many teachers complained?

Apparently crossword puzzle enthusiasts like erasable ink. The various colors of ink are more vivid than pencil marks, which might be helpful during a tense puzzling session. However it does fly in the face of the bravado you're supposed to show by doing the puzzle in ink. Perhaps it doesn't make much difference. Let's face it, if you're using a crossword to show how fearless you are, I have a feeling you've lost the case before presenting evidence, puzzle man...

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