Altair 8800b Microcomputer

Description:

This early microcomputer is in a rectangular blue metal box with switches on the front. Included in the accession are the Altair 8800b computer (1985.0647.01), an ADM 3A terminal (1985.0647.02), an Intronix 210C disk drive (1985.0647.03), a Shugart Associates No. 801 disk drive (1985.0647.04), and numerous small parts and documents.

According to Ivan Berger, the former owner, user, and donor of the machine, he was one of many excited by the appearance of the Altair on the cover of the January, 1975, issue of Popular Electronics. In late 1975 or early 1976, while still electronics editor of Popular Mechanics, he journeyed to Albuquerque to visit the MITS plant where the Altair was made and was impressed by possible applications of the device.

In late 1976, Berger got this Altair 8800b, a revised version of the original machine. He quickly discovered that he needed such additional parts as an input/output board and a terminal, a ROM board with an operating system, and a cassette input/output board for loading programs. He also added more RAM (from an original 16 kilobytes), eventually having perhaps 2K of ROM and 56K of RAM. all from different manufacturers. Berger then replaced his Altair with a TRS-80 Model I, which he described as “a bit of a clunker, too; but it combined ROM. RAM, keyboard, input/output ports and screen, in a system which was cheap and ready to run as soon as you plugged it in.”

For related transactions, see 1986.0130 and 1986.3023.

Reference:

Accession file 1985.0647.

Date Made: 1976

Maker: Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New Mexico, Albuquerque

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Computers

Exhibition:

Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Ivan Berger

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1985.0647.01Catalog Number: 1985.0647.01Accession Number: 1985.0647

Object Name: Microcomputer

Physical Description: metal. silicon. rubber. plastic. (overall material)manufactured (overall production method/technique)Measurements: overall: 18 cm x 43 cm x 47 cm; 7 3/32 in x 16 15/16 in x 18 1/2 in

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a1-3920-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_334377

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.