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Comments, Queries, and Debate: Early Small Computers

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129587D
Original Publication Date: 1989-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 1 page(s) / 13K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Editor: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

In response to the item in the Annals (Vol. 10, No. 2, p. 142) identifying the French ";Micra!,"; produced initially in 1973, as one of the first microcomputers, Monty Phister, Jr., of Santa Fe, New Mexico, wrote us regarding another early entry: ";I'm not sure how you define a microcomputer, but perhaps the Kenbak, which was judged the first PC Iby a panel of judges at the Computer Museum], was also the first microcomputer. However, it was built from SSI and MSI chips, and your definition may require that a microcomputer be built from a computer or calculator chip."; He enclosed a May 1986 clipping from the Wall Street Journal, according to which the Kenbak was first built in 1971. The article identifies computer engineer John Blankenbaker as the inventor of the Kenbak. Mr. Blankenbaker admitted that it had only 256 characters of memory and very limited input and output, having no keyboard or screen. He sold 40 of the table-top machines at a price of $750. He named the machine Kenbak because he ";liked the similarity to the name Kodak. I was doing what George Eastman did -- taking something that was complex and expensive and making it small and cheap."; The ";micro"; prefix as applied to computers is difficult to define. It is presumably much smaller than ";mini,"; whatever that is. Being a table-top machine, the Kenbak would fall into one or the other of those categories.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1989 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Comments, Queries, and Debate: Early Small Computers

Editor

In response to the item in the Annals (Vol. 10, No. 2, p. 142) identifying the French "Micra!," produced initially in 1973, as one of the first microcomputers, Monty Phister, Jr., of Santa Fe, New Mexico, wrote us regarding another early entry: "I'm not sure how you define a microcomputer, but perhaps the Kenbak, which was judged the first PC Iby a panel of judges at the Computer Museum], was also the first microcomputer. However, it was built from SSI and MSI chips, and your definition may require that a microcomputer be built from a computer or calculator chip." He enclosed a May 1986 clipping from the Wall Street Journal, according to which the Kenbak was first built in 1971.

The article identifies computer engineer John Blankenbaker as the inventor of the Kenbak. Mr. Blankenbaker admitted that it had only 256 characters of memory and very limited input and output, having no keyboard or screen. He sold 40 of the table-top machines at a price of $750. He named the machine Kenbak because he "liked the similarity to the name Kodak. I was doing what George Eastman did -- taking something that was complex and expensive and making it small and cheap."

The "micro" prefix as applied to computers is difficult to define. It is presumably muc...