Wanna trigger a serious discussion with your friends and co-geeks? Ask for the very first personal computer and see them all … failing.
No Commodore, Apple or other known brand here. The price for this device actually goes to Mr. John Blankenbaker. When attending the University of Oregon in 1949 he started working on a personal computing device, but soon realized, that this would be too expensive for a single person to build.
However, in 1971 he finally did it, and created the KENBAK-1. The machine was an 8-bit system with 256 Bytes of RAM built from individual TTL logic chips - microprocessors were not available yet.
Thanks to Chris from Adwater & Stir you can build one on your own. According to Chris the original design comes from Mark Wilson, but Chris offers a full package of the machine dubbed µKENBAK-1 on Tindie.
The cool thing is, you can enter machine code directly using the switches, or connect the machine to your computer and simply upload any program. The build is pretty straight forward and the whole project not only teaches you a lot. You will end up with a unique piece of hardware that many of your friends and co-geeks will envy you for.
I mean programming a computer with front panel switches! There is only one thing, that is cooler: a 2% keyboard with just two keys, 0 and 1.