While cleaning out my garage the other day (as I do periodically to make room for new stuff), I came upon the family Big Trak, which my father bought for my brother and me at a flea market in the early 1980s.
In case you didn't know, the Big Trak was an electronic toy tank that one could program to perform certain movements in a sequence. At its heart lay the famous Texas-Instruments TMS1000 microcontroller. While the user typed in commands on the keypad seen above, the Big Trak emitted an array of wonderful synthesized beeps and bloops that still give me warm and fuzzy feelings when I hear them today.
Like many of the flea market toys my brother and I received back then, our Big Trak arrived with a broken front axle and a missing battery door cover. My dad would purposely buy broken electronics for very cheap and fix them up for us. And so he did with the Big Trak. The gadget provided many hours of entertainment for us as it traversed our living room's shag carpeting time and time again.
After about 10 years of rough play and 20 years of improper storage, my Big Trak was in pretty terrible shape when I came upon it recently. It was time to put the Big fella to rest, so I pulled out this keypad just before saying a final farewell to our old family friend.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite electronic (non video-game) toy of all time?