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989[Altair Computer Club] Re: Hello from PC World, and two Altair-related questions

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  • Steve
    Aug 28, 2006
      Wow, what a skewed survey that was. Just look at the 11 computers
      that were deemed "greater":

      1- 1977 Apple II
      2- 1986 Compaq Deskpro 386
      3- 1981 Xerox 8010 Information System
      4- 1986 Apple Macintosh Plus
      5- 1992 IBM ThinkPad 700C
      6- 1981 IBM Personal Computer, Model 5150
      7- 1985 Commodore Amiga 1000
      8- 1983 Tandy TRS-80 Model 100
      9- 1982 Columbia Data Products MPC 1600-1
      10- 1991 Apple PowerBook 100
      11- 1998 Sony VAIO 505GX
      12- 1975 MITS Altair 8800

      The Altair should have beaten them all based on the 4 judging

      1) Innovation: Did the PC do anything that was genuinely new? Did it
      incorporate the latest technology?

      Yes, it was genuinely new (certainly newer that the top 11
      computers). Not only did it incorporate the latest technology, it
      was the only technology. The Columbia was voted #7 because it was
      the first clone (of an IBM PC). Why in the world is that more
      important than being the first original? For that matter, why is it
      more important than the IMSAI 8080, the computer that truly was the
      first clone.

      2) Impact: Was it widely imitated? Did it become part of the cultural

      Well, it was certainly imitated. For awhile, the Altair bus was THE
      standard. None of the top 11 have been copied to any extent (OK-
      maybe there's an argument for the Xerox OS and mouse).

      3) Industrial design: Was it a looker? Did it have clever features
      that made using it a pleasure?

      Yes, the Altair had lots of blinky lights, unlike those 11 other
      boring boxes. And you could actually fiddle with bits via the front

      4) Intangibles: Was there anything else about it that set it apart
      from the same ol' same ol'?

      Yes, Altair was the first commercially viable PC, the first widely
      used hobby PC, and the first business PC. At the time, "same ol'
      same ol'" meant "Altair".

      Bah! A pox on that survey! Oh well, at least WE know better.


      --- In altaircomputerclub@yahoogroups.com, charles_pearson
      <no_reply@...> wrote:
      > It looks like the article was written and published. Here's a link:
      > http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,126692-page,1-
      > The Altair 8800 came in at #12:
      > 12. MITS Altair 8800 (1975)
      > MITS Altair 8800
      > Computer historians are still squabbling over whether MITS's Altair
      > was the first true personal computer. (Earlier candidates include
      > Kenbak-1 and Micral-N.) What's undeniable is that it was "the first
      > machine to really capture the imagination of the geek sector in a
      > way," says Erik Klein of Vintage-Computer.com. "The fact that other
      > companies quickly jumped onto the bandwagon was proof of its power
      > allure."
      > The Altair started life as a $397 build-it-yourself kit--little more
      > than a box, a board, an Intel 8080 CPU (which MITS bought at a
      > discount because of cosmetic blemishes), and 256 bytes of RAM. At
      > first you needed to program it by flipping switches, until Bill
      > and Paul Allen started a tiny company called Micro-soft (yes, with a
      > hyphen) and came up with a version of the BASIC programming language
      > that would work on the system.
      > Software from Bill Gates wasn't the only thing the Altair had in
      > common with today's systems. Much of the infrastructure that would
      > support later PCs--from disk-drive manufacturers to software
      > developers to computer stores--sprung up to support it. There were
      > even clones, such as the popular IMSAI 8080.
      > The Altair's time as the dominant computing platform was brief, and
      > 1978 it was discontinued altogether. But what a legacy it left.
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