Auction Report: John Blankenbaker’s Kenbak-1 on eBay

In 1986, the Computer Museum in Boston declared the Kenbak-1 the world’s first personal computer. Built in 1971 by John Blankenbaker, the Kenbak-1 was (and still is) a controversial choice. Some argue that it’s not even a true computer since it uses discrete logic rather than a microprocessor. Other systems were advertised around the same time.

When a leading museum labels a system historically important, it tends to enhance its value with collectors. If that system is put up for sale by its creator, that puts a premium on the unit being sold.

John Blankenbaker’s Kenbak-1 is now listed on eBay. At this writing, it has one bid of $4,000 with nine days left. How high will it go? Given recent auctions, there is a strong market for significant early systems. My estimate is $8,000 to $9,000, but I would not be surprised if it went higher.

Of the 50 Kenbak-1’s built, a good number have survived–at least a dozen. That makes it less more rare than, say, the Apple 1.

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2 comments

  1. Cameron · · Reply

    I think you meant to say that it is more rare than an Apple 1. There were about 200 Apple 1s made with about 40 estimated to survive today.

  2. You are right. Thanks for pointing that out. Making the fix.

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