Artifact Details


Blankenbaker, John oral history

Catalog Number





John Blakenbaker is best known for the Kenbak-1 computer. The Kenbak-1 is considered by some to be the first personal computer. It was introduced in 1973 and, although not a success, provided a useful preview for what was to happen in the ensuing years. John was born in 1929 and grew up on a farm in Oregon. After high school he enlisted in the Navy where he became an electronics technician. After his discharge he attended OSU where he received two degrees one in physics and one in mathematics. He went to work for Hughes Aircraft Company in their business computer division. They were designing a computer to supplement their government work. It became too expensive to develop and was abandoned. From Hughes he decided to enroll at MIT where he received a professional degree in
Electrical Engineering. During one summer he was an intern at the Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C. on the SEAC computer. After graduating he did consulting work for a number of companies. These included: Scantlin Electronics, Quotron, Curtis Wright, CTI, and International Communication Sciences.

Blankenbaker gives a detailed review of the development and demise of the Kenbak Company. He then became one of the founders of Symbolics, Inc. which developed a LISP processor. He left to join Quotron, a stock market quotation company. He retired to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania where he has continued with many of his interests.




Blankenbaker, John V., Interviewee
Felsenstein, Lee, Interviewer
Hendrie, Gardner, Videographer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Chadds Fort, Pennsylvania


54 p.




Blankenbaker, John V.; Kenbak-1 (Computer); Eddy test; Standards Eastern Automatic Computer (SEAC); Hughes Aircraft Company; Logically Micro-Programmed Computers; Librascope General Purpose computer (LGP-30); General Precision, Inc.; Litton Industries; Phister, Montgomery; Kamp, Christopher; Dougherty, James; Blatner, John; Holdem, Vance; Scantlin, Jack; Kenbak Corporation; Quotron; Scantlin Electronics, Inc. (SEI); Greenblatt, Richard; Symbolics, Inc.; Adams, Robert P.; Germanna; Science Products; Blenham, Thomas

Collection Title

Oral history collection

Lot Number