Altair 8800

MITS AltairMITS Altair 8800AltairMITS Altair ComputerAltair computersMITS Altair microcomputer
The Altair 8800 is a microcomputer designed in 1974 by MITS and based on the Intel 8080 CPU.wikipedia
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Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems

MITSMicro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS)MITS 7400C
The Altair 8800 is a microcomputer designed in 1974 by MITS and based on the Intel 8080 CPU.
Roberts then developed the first commercially successful microcomputer, the Altair 8800, which was featured on the January 1975 cover of Popular Electronics.

Popular Electronics

PoptronicsComputers & Electronics
Interest grew quickly after it was featured on the cover of the January 1975 issue (published in late November 1974) of Popular Electronics, and was sold by mail order through advertisements there, in Radio-Electronics, and in other hobbyist magazines.
The most famous issue, January 1975, had the Altair 8800 computer on the cover and ignited the home computer revolution.

Microcomputer

microcomputersmicrocomputingmicro-computer
The Altair 8800 is a microcomputer designed in 1974 by MITS and based on the Intel 8080 CPU.
Of the early "box of switches"-type microcomputers, the MITS Altair 8800 (1975) was arguably the most famous.

Intel 8080

8080i80808080A
The Altair 8800 is a microcomputer designed in 1974 by MITS and based on the Intel 8080 CPU.
It became the engine of the Altair 8800, and subsequent S-100 bus personal computers, until it was replaced by the Z80 in this role, and was the original target CPU for CP/M operating systems developed by Gary Kildall.

Microsoft

Microsoft CorporationMicrosoft Corp.MS
The computer bus designed for the Altair was to become a de facto standard in the form of the S-100 bus, and the first programming language for the machine was Microsoft's founding product, Altair BASIC.
Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975, to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800.

History of personal computers

microcomputer revolutionpersonal computer revolutionof the personal computer
The Altair is widely recognized as the spark that ignited the microcomputer revolution as the first commercially successful personal computer.
The Altair 8800 sold remarkably well even though initial memory size was limited to a few hundred bytes and there was no software available.

Altair BASIC

BASIC interpretercommercial softwareMicrosoft BASIC
The computer bus designed for the Altair was to become a de facto standard in the form of the S-100 bus, and the first programming language for the machine was Microsoft's founding product, Altair BASIC.
Altair BASIC is a discontinued interpreter for the BASIC programming language that ran on the MITS Altair 8800 and subsequent S-100 bus computers.

Ed Roberts (computer engineer)

Ed RobertsDr. H. Edward RobertsHenry E. Roberts
While serving at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, Ed Roberts and Forrest M. Mims III decided to use their electronics background to produce small kits for model rocket hobbyists. Ed Roberts and his head engineer, Bill Yates, finished the first prototype in October 1974 and shipped it to Popular Electronics in New York via the Railway Express Agency.
Roberts then developed the Altair 8800 personal computer that used the new Intel 8080 microprocessor.

TV Typewriter

The TV Cheap Video Cookbookvideo display
He was impressed with Don Lancaster's TV Typewriter (Radio Electronics, September 1973) article and wanted computer projects for Popular Electronics.
The TV Typewriter is considered a milestone in the home computer revolution along with the Mark-8 and Altair 8800 computers.

Radio-Electronics

Radio ElectronicsRadio-CraftElectronics Now
Interest grew quickly after it was featured on the cover of the January 1975 issue (published in late November 1974) of Popular Electronics, and was sold by mail order through advertisements there, in Radio-Electronics, and in other hobbyist magazines.
However, Popular Electronics published the most famous project in January 1975 with the MITS Altair 8800 computer.

Intellec

Intellec-8
Intel made the Intellec-8 Microprocessor Development System that typically sold for a very profitable $10,000.
The Intellec computers were among the first microcomputers ever sold, predating the Altair 8800.

Forrest Mims

Forrest M. MimsForrest M. Mims IIIForrest M Mims III
While serving at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, Ed Roberts and Forrest M. Mims III decided to use their electronics background to produce small kits for model rocket hobbyists.
The January 1975 cover of Popular Electronics featured Roberts' Altair 8800 computer.

Processor Technology

Lee Felsenstein and Bob MarshProcessor Technology CorporationProcessor Technology SOL 20
His company was Processor Technology, one of the most successful Altair compatible board suppliers.
Their first product was a 4K byte RAM board that was compatible with the MITS Altair 8800 computer but more reliable than the MITS board.

S-100 bus

S-100IEEE-696S100 bus
The computer bus designed for the Altair was to become a de facto standard in the form of the S-100 bus, and the first programming language for the machine was Microsoft's founding product, Altair BASIC.
The S-100 bus or Altair bus, IEEE696-1983 (withdrawn), is an early computer bus designed in 1974 as a part of the Altair 8800.

IMSAI 8080

IMSAI Series Two4 IMSAI 8080sImsai
In the October 1975 Popular Electronics, a small advertisement announced the IMSAI 8080 computer.
It was a clone of its main competitor, the earlier MITS Altair 8800.

Backplane

backplanesmidplaneback plane
It was easier to assemble: The Altair required 60 wire connections between the front panel and the mother board (backplane.) The IMSAI motherboard had 18 slots.
Early microcomputer systems like the Altair 8800 used a backplane for the processor and expansion cards.

BASIC

BASIC programming languageGOSUBcompiled BASIC
For a decade, colleges had required science and engineering majors to take a course in computer programming, typically using the FORTRAN or BASIC languages.
He had seen BASIC on minicomputers and felt it would be the perfect match for new machines like the MITS Altair 8800.

Pertec Computer

PertecPertec Computer Corporation
In 1977, Pertec Computer Corporation purchased MITS and began to market the computer, without changes (except for branding), as the PCC 8800 in 1978.
Pertec bought MITS, the manufacturers of the MITS Altair computer, for US$6.5 million in 1976.

Mark-8

They were evaluating a computer trainer project by Jerry Ogdin when the Mark-8 8008-based computer by Jonathan Titus appeared on the July 1974 cover of Radio-Electronics.
Although not very commercially successful, the Mark-8 prompted the editors of Popular Electronics magazine to consider publishing a similar but more easily accessible microcomputer project, and just six months later, in January 1975, they went through with their plans announcing the Altair 8800.

Railway Express Agency

expressREA ExpressAmerican Railway Express Company
Ed Roberts and his head engineer, Bill Yates, finished the first prototype in October 1974 and shipped it to Popular Electronics in New York via the Railway Express Agency.
During the railroad strike of October 1974, the first Altair 8800 microcomputer was lost.

Altair

αAlpha Aquilaeα Aql
McVeigh suggested "Altair", the twelfth brightest star in the sky.
The Altair 8800 was one of the first microcomputers intended for home use.

Bill Gates

BillWilliam H. GatesGates
In fact the letter had been sent by Bill Gates and Paul Allen from the Boston area, and they had no BASIC yet to offer.
The MITS Altair 8800 was released the following year based on the Intel 8080 CPU, and Gates and Allen saw this as the opportunity to start their own computer software company.

Motorola 6800

6800EXORciserMC6800
He thought the Intel 4004 and Intel 8008 were not powerful enough (in fact several microcomputers based on Intel chips were already on the market: the Canadian company Microsystems International's CPS-1 built in 1972 used a MIL MF7114 chip modeled on the 4004, the Micral marketed in January 1973 by the French company R2E and the MCM/70 marketed in 1974 by the Canadian company Micro Computer Machines); the National Semiconductor IMP-8 and IMP-16 required external hardware; the Motorola 6800 was still in development.
The MITS Altair 8800, the first successful personal computer, used the Intel 8080 microprocessor and was featured on the January 1975 cover of Popular Electronics.

Bus (computing)

buscomputer busdata bus
The computer bus designed for the Altair was to become a de facto standard in the form of the S-100 bus, and the first programming language for the machine was Microsoft's founding product, Altair BASIC.
Almost all early microcomputers were built in this fashion, starting with the S-100 bus in the Altair 8800 computer system.

Front panel

front-panelblinking lights and toggle switchesconsole
The front panel, which was inspired by the Data General Nova minicomputer, included a large number of toggle switches to feed binary data directly into the memory of the machine, and a number of red LEDs to read those values back out.
Early microcomputers such as the 1975 Altair 8800 also relied on front panels, but since the introduction of the Apple II, TRS-80, and Commodore PET during the home computer boom of 1977, the vast majority of microcomputers came with keyboards and connections for TV screens or other monitors.