The Kenbak-1 designed by John V. Blankenbaker and
advertised in Scientific American in 1971, was dubbed the first commercially
available personal computer by the Boston Computer Museum in 1987 (Now the
Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA). This award is argued by
collector pinheads like myself to no end, but you must concede the the
milestone this computer represented, regardless how it is otherwise classified.
The Kenbak-1 preceded the first microprocessor based
computers by a couple years, and was made entirely of small scale TTL
integrated circuits--circuits that consisted mainly of a few gates per
chip. Quite an accomplishment for the time. There are a total 132 chips on
the main board, including the two 1024 bit shift register memories
(organized as 256 eight-bit bytes).
The machine was designed as an educational tool, and was
marketed to schools in the early 1970's. Only about forty were made,
making this one of the most sought after collectables in the computer
world. In recent years, several of these machines have surfaced and have
sold to private collectors in private sales, and on ebay.
The Kenbak Replica
Recently, a couple friends of mine have made
photographical and functional Kenbak-1 replicas with good success. I
picked up this board from a collector friend, and I plan to assemble it as
I have time. What you see here in the photos is everything I have as of
The hardest part is a self imposed one--I want to use
historically accurate parts, from the actual time period. I am seeking TTL
chips with date codes from 1972 or earlier. The 1402A memory chips that I
have (See photo) are dated from 1980. I would like to find earlier version
of them too. I do not plan to use IC sockets either, which means that I
will have to carefully verify every chip before soldering it in place.
If you know of any source for old chips, please let me
know! (I am willing to pull chips from old PC boards too!!)
I will update this page with my progress--expected to be very
- Designer John Blankenbaker's own web page.
- Erik Klien's original Kenbak-1
of Nova Scotia - Has the largest known collection of these rare
machines, SEVEN! Totally unfair! --Hey! Looks like he sold one!
Maybe I have chance after all. :)
KenbakKit.com - Grant
Stockly's beautiful recreation of the Kenbak, dubbed "Kenbak Series
2", very limited run. Get them while you can!
Jones's Kenbak Creation Story - Excellent information for a DIY