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.

Ernie Kovacs Remembered

Kovacs printing plate003

Inveterate video genius Ernie Kovacs died on January 13th, 1962. Most people don't recognize the name today, despite significant accomplishments (most of which weren't really lauded until after his death). He was an occasional host in the early days of the Tonight Show, he was the first host ever of a morning television program (so successful was the experiment that he was pushed off the air by a little morning show called "The Today Show"), but most significantly he was the first comedian to really use television in a way that you seldom see... even today.

There's always been an important role for comedy in television history. We've seen plenty of  stand-up comedians and situation comedies flicker across our screens, but Kovacs was first to exploit the modern electronic magic of TV. Kovacs not only lampooned the TV shows of the day, he made use of television technology itself (much the same way that the brilliant "trick films" of Méliès from the silent movie era did). His many blackout gags would be written around effects like split screens, superimpositions, compositing, and a whole bunch of other radical image manipulation that he and those early men of early TV homebrewed from scratch.

I could go on and on about Kovacs, his short life and his massive influence. David Letterman and Craig Fergusen have cited his creativity as influential. Even I was affected when I saw Kovacs' work in high school, and it inspired me to study television. He was an early proponent of non sequitur humor. Without his visual wit, we might not have had Monty Python or Laugh-In or even Sesame Street. I could weep more about his unjust obscurity, but the best way to honor his memory is to let the pictures do the talking. There is a new set of DVD's we hope to review soon for you, but in the meantime here are some clips to enjoy.


Help out Retro Thing when you pre-order the new Kovacs DVD set


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