Altair – Computer Technology 1970’s

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Altair – The Forgotten One

As any geek (and non-geek) my know –  Altair came out with the very first personal computer around 1974. It’s all over the Internet.

Using Intel’s new 8080 chip – with 7K of memory and 4K dynamic RAM – the Altair 8800 was born and saluted by the likes of “Popular Electronics.” It used a – what became a – proprietary language called, “BASIC” and that’s where a young Bill Gates and Paul Allen came into the picture. Needless to say, their relationship with Altair morphed into a company they founded called, “Microsoft” around 1976. But, it all began when, with the Altair folks –  they got a judge to decide that they COULD sell Altair’s 8080 BASIC to other computer manufacturers – well before anything DOS.

By 1976 – Altair wasn’t doing too badly – with $6 million in sales and several hundred employees.

I found this unique ad from 1979. The company was actually called MITS (Micro Instruments and Telemetry Systems) and by 1979 – company founder Ed Roberts had sold the business. And, by this time, Gates, Allen and Microsoft were doing their own thing. This ad features the follow-up – the 8800b PC complete with floppy drive.

Altair then merged with another company – and was soon gone.

computer history - altair 1979


Gary West

Historian Gary West built his first website in 1998 with That addressed now forwards to - an amazing pop culture/news database with 25,000 pages, covering the years 1955-2014. He's also the author of - covering consumer technology from 1952 to the present. West has been a contributor to numerous books, radio-TV shows, CNN & USA Today & the History Channel.

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