Web Emulator For The Kenbak-1 Computer (If You’ve Heard Of It)

Ever heard of the KENBAK-1? Recognized as the first personal computer, created by John Blankenbaker and sold in 1971 in comparatively small numbers, it’s now a piece of history. But don’t let that stop you if you are curious, because of course there is an emulator on the web.

If the machine looks a bit strange, that’s because early computers of this type did not have the kind of controls (or displays) most people would recognize today. Inputs were buttons and switches, and outputs were lights showing binary values ​​of register contents. The machine could store and run programs, and those programs were entered in pure machine code (no compiler, in other words) by setting individual bit values ​​via the switches. In fact, the KENBAK-1’s invention preceded that of the microprocessor.

The KENBAK was the first electronic, commercially available computer that was not a kit and available to the general population, but the story of how it came to be is interesting. Back in 2016 we covered how that story was shared by John Blankenbaker himself at Vintage Computer Festival East.

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