NorthStar Horizon Personal Computer

Northstar developed from a computer store called "The Original Kentucky Fried Computer." It changed its name due to impending litigation by Kentucky Fried Chicken! The company's first product was a Floating Point Math Board for S-100 computers. They then developed an inexpensive floppy drive system. This led the way to the Horizon, one of the first computers with built in floppy drives.
Announced in November 1977, the Horizon was sold in a wooden cabinet, as opposed to the more usual metal or plastic. The initial price was $1,899 assembled and $1,599 unassembled. The Horizon ran on a Z-80 microprocessor that ran at 4 MHz. It contained 16 KB of RAM, which could be expanded to 64 KB and 1 KB of ROM. The operating system was both CP/M and Northstar DOS. The machine was among the first to offer floppy drives, and customers could order one or two 90 KB 5 ¼" drives. Northstar was also one of the first machines to offer a hard disk drive. This was called an HD-18, and had 18 Megabytes on an 18" platter. The Northstar Horizon was suited for business, education, and software development applications.
This particular machine was donated to the Smithsonian by Peter A. McWilliams, author of the popular book, The Personal Computer book, (1983) which became a runaway bestseller. This was his first computer.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
average spatial: 19.1 cm x 50.1 cm x 44.5 cm; 7 1/2 in x 19 3/4 in x 17 1/2 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Family & Social Life
Computers & Business Machines
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Peter McWilliams

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.