Monday, January 31, 2005

And the world was never the same...

The Altair 8800

from MITS of

Albuquerque, NM.

Image from Computer Closet

I could not let January pass without noting that the Personal Computer is now 30 years old. (Note: Not the IBM PC, that johnnie-come-lately didn't come on the scene for another six years. Personal Computer was an existing industry term, co-opted by big blue. In a striking prophetic act, they Trademarked the name...) MrGadgets, along with the rest of the world, became aware of this device when it appeared in an article in the January 1975 edition of Popular Electronics.

The Altair is recognized by most as the first true personal computer. More information here: There is an article here: (Note the EIGHT INCH floppy drive. I think I still have some 8" media buried upstairs.) Also check out Tom Sanderson's Virtual Altair Museum.

This, boys and girls is the progenitor, the one that started it all. Lest you under-estimate the importance of the Altair, you still can see it's influence on the modern technological world.

Upon seeing the article, Bill Gates and Paul Allen saw an opportunity. They DROPPED out of HARVARD and moved to NM to write Altair BASIC.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Also worth noting, MITS didn't really intend to start the Micro-Computer revolution. What then? The clue lies in the name: Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems. What kind of telemetry? Model Rockets, of course.

And so began the revolution...


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