NorthStar Horizon Microcomputer


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 ΒΌ" 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. He used it in writing The Word Processing Book: A Short Course in Computer Literacy (1982). When it sold well, McWilliams wrote The Personal Computer Book, (1983), which became a runaway bestseller. This was his first computer.

Date Made: 1977

Maker: Northstar

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: California, Berkeley

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Computers, Family & Social Life, Work, Computers & Business Machines


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Peter McWilliams

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1989.0354.01Catalog Number: 1989.0354.01Accession Number: 1989.0354

Object Name: microcomputer

Physical Description: metal (overall material)plastic (overall material)Measurements: 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


Record Id: nmah_1064207

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