Altair 8800

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The MITS Altair 8800 was a microcomputer design from 1975 based on the Intel 8080 CPU and sold by mail order through advertisements in Popular Electronics, Radio-Electronics and other hobbyist magazines. The designers hoped to sell only a few hundred build-it-yourself kits to hobbyists, and were surprised when they sold thousands in the first month.[1] The Altair also appealed to individuals and businesses who just wanted a computer and purchased the assembled version.[2] Today the Altair is widely recognized as the spark that led to the microcomputer revolution of the next few years: 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.[3][4]

Contents

History

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. In 1969, Roberts and Mims, along with Stan Cagle and Robert Zaller, founded Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) in Roberts' garage in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and started selling radio transmitters and instruments for model rockets.

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