PCs

Inside the first personal computer: Kenbak-1

Kenbak-1 cover Off

As can be seen above the Kenbak-1 doesn't have a CPU. The two can-shaped circuits in the upper left near the fan are the shift register memory.

This particular Kenbak-1 is in remarkably good shape for its age. There is almost no noticeable damage to the case or front panel. Many of the switches had become unglued from the inner part of the front panel and needed to be reattached to allow full operation. According to the previous owner the machine worked before I got it.

At the moment the machine almost works but there is a disconnect between what is stored in memory and what is retrieved. This could be a failure on either operation or it could be a failure of the memory itself. There is a pattern to the failure which should be a clue.

The real issue, though, is whether or not I want to alter a pristine example of the Kenbak-1 in order to make it fully functional. At the moment, at least, I'm leaning towards leaving the machine as-is.

Reprinted with permission from Vintage-Computer.com

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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