On offer in Auction Team Breker’s sale on November 7, 2015 in Cologne, Germany, is an original, working “Enigma Model K” cyphering machine from 1939 (1). Complete with its oak case, plaque, four matching rotors and additional lamp panel, the iconic device is expected to bring 20.000 – 40.000 Euro / US$ 22,000 – 44,000.
Fast forward ten years. John Blankenbaker, a first year physics student at Oregon State College, began designs for a computing device that could calculate using logarithms. In 1958 he published his description of the machine in an article titled “Logically Microprogrammed Computers” and in 1970 decided to build an affordable computer for personal use.
In the early days of the office computer even a small device cost thousands of dollars whereas Blankenbaker’s goal was a simple computer that would cost no more than US$ 500. His criteria were that the computer should be educational, give user satisfaction with simple programmes and demonstrate as many programming concepts as possible. The result was the “Kenbak-1”, the first commercially available personal computer (2). Not only was the Kenbak-1 offered for sale at nearly the same price as Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak’s “Apple-1”, it pre-dated its successful follower by five years!!
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