989[Altair Computer Club] Re: Hello from PC World, and two Altair-related questions
- Aug 28 12:18 AMWow, 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
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 email@example.com, charles_pearson
> It looks like the article was written and published. Here's a link:
> 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 firstbig
> machine to really capture the imagination of the geek sector in a
> way," says Erik Klein of Vintage-Computer.com. "The fact that otherand
> companies quickly jumped onto the bandwagon was proof of its power
> 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 ain
> 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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