MITS Altair 680 Kit Computer

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The Altair 680 appeared about a year after Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) had introduced the Altair 8800, which many historians credit as the beginning of the home computer industry. In the Altair 680, MITS offered an update of the Altair 8800 that was based on the Motorola 6800 processor.
Like the Altair 8800, the Altair 680 was a kit. For $293, users received circuit boards, capacitors, resistors, transistors, diodes, a power supply, an instruction manual, and a case in which to assemble it. Also like the 8800, the 680 had switches on the front that could be used to enter computer instructions, bit by bit. If customers were willing to pay $420, they could buy the computer already assembled. Neither the kit nor the assembled computer came with display, keyboard, or external storage device.
The Motorola 6800 microprocessor ran at 500 KHZ, and the computer had a 1 KB of RAM and 1 KB of ROM, as well as support for a serial terminal and punch reader.
The Altair 680 did not meet with the success that the 8800 had. Most users were now interested in buying computers that came with displays and keyboards, and were willing to pay more for them. The Altair 680 kit in the Smithsonian was never assembled.
Currently not on view
Date made
Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
average spatial: 12.1 cm x 27.8 cm x 27.8 cm; 4 3/4 in x 10 15/16 in x 10 15/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
JGift of James S. Hodsdon
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Medicine and Science: Computers
Computers & Business Machines
Family & Social Life
Data Source
National Museum of American History