Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Science Fiction Thimbles - From The Future!

Dalek-and-max-thimbles-800Even around this house, these things are weird.

Like every kind of object in the world, there are collectors for thimbles. Of course, that crowd is going to create new collectibles for their own delight. If you asked me, I would have denied it, but I guess it makes a kind of sense that someone would create sci fi thimbles.

There's no year on the Dalek thimble. My guess would be the late 70s when the show was seeing a tremendous surge of interest thanks to Tom Baker's portrayal. The thimble is genuine ceramic, with a little gold trim on it. I could see it being a cherished little thing for someone's collection back then. The Dalek is slightly misshapen, as they often were in merchandise. They're such a weird shape, especially if you're barely attention.

The other thimble is even odder. It's just cheap cream-colored plastic. There's a very cheap-looking stamp of Max on the front, with "COKE" listed four times on the obverse. In red. In an unimaginative typewriter font. Clearly not an official product, instead clearly a cheap and odd cashing in on the late 80s fad. Which makes it all the more lovable.

I do love these two thimbles at the front of a shelf in my office. To me, they represent the breadth of sci-fi thimble making technology (as far as I know - I've got a lot more research to do). Not only can you show off your science fiction allegiances in your sewing basket, but you can tell everyone that you have your very own Dalek that helps keep all the little pricks away.

"Monkey Grip Glue" 16mm Color Kinescope

Bill Wyman was the bassist for the Rolling Stones, but found time for a solo effort. Here's a rare 16mm kinescope that a friend of mine just transferred ro video. It's a "Live" (lip-synched) performance of his song "Monkey Grip Glue". I don't know anything more about the clips, except that it looks like it's from a "Top Of The Pops" style show. Not only is this a different version of the clip that has been around on YouTube, but the color is unusually good considering the age of the film, and that color kinescoping didn't usually work all that well.

Ben Heck Gets A Mac Classic To Spill Its Guts

We've featured Ben Heckendorn here at Retro Thing before. He made a splash in the worlds of retro game console modding through his many clever projects to make pretty much any game system ever portable. he hasn't stopped since then, with one mad scientist-tastic project after another.

To keep up with this madman, electronics component purveyor Newark has given Ben his own weekly internet show. Every week he launches into some project or other - maybe a build, a tutorial, or a teardown like this one. While musing whether the world needs yet another Steve Jobs biopic, he sets his sights on cracking open a classic Mac, just to see what's inside. As he threatens to set loose the blue smoke, you'll see just how clever the design of the Mac was, even in the late 80s.

Would you refurb an old Mac to work like new, or would you use it as fodder to add some more modern electronics in there? What would you build?

Superboard III: Briel Recreates Another 1970s Microcomputer

Briel Superboard III

Vince Briel seems to be on a one man quest to remake each and every cool 1970s microcomputer. His past designs include a tiny version of the Altair 8800, the Apple I, Commodore KIM-1 and even a VT-100 terminal emulator.

His latest creation is a wicked version of the Ohio Scientific OSI 600, the Superboard III. It features a low power (3.3V) WDC65C02 processor at 1 MHz and includes 32K RAM and 1K video RAM (25x25 characters with the standard OSI text and graphic character set - a switchable 32x32 mode is also available). 

Unlike the original, there's no cassette interface but there is a 9600 bps serial port for loading programs. If you'd like a slightly more modern method of loading data, there's also a USB port that can be used to power the system and transfer programs using a terminal program such as Hyperterm. 

The original Superboard II was a brilliant example of early microcomputer miniaturization because it was an all-in-one system with the keyboard, processor, memory, video and I/O circuits all on the same board. Briel's recreation achieves the same effect with custom keycaps on Cherry MX mechanical switches that emulate the look of the original with a better feel. 

One nice change is the functionality of the Break key. On the original Superboard II, its proximity to Return caused all sorts of problems because it caused a cold reset (losing everything in memory) when tapped accidentally. To avoid this sort of nastiness, the new version requires you to hold the key for 3 seconds before performing a reset. 

There's also a 40-pin expansion port, although the pinout is different than the original to prevent enthusiastic vintage fans from attempting to plug old 5V expansion cards into the low voltage 3.3V Superboard III and causing damage. 

All in all, this might be the most impressive Briel recreation yet and I can't wait to see what he's got up his sleeves for the future. I'd love to own a Commodore PET-2001 clone. Just saying.

Briel Computers Superboard III Microcomputer

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