Re: [midatlanticretro] Re: The Demo setup for MARCH's Altair- current status
- On Tue, 20 Aug 2013, s100doctor wrote:
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, corey986 <no_reply@...> wrote:Well said, Dr. Johnson! We should all learn from you.
>> I find the best demo of my personal Altair is to use the MBL rom and load 8k basic and the load Star Trek, both off paper tape. ... I'm even thinking of pulling my ADM out of the mix and using my early TI silent terminal, but playing a game of Star Trek could cost you almost $10 in thermal paper LOL.
>> The point of the MARCH demo is to show how primative/useless the Altair was when introduced and people were still gaga over it. It feeds into the introduction of the home brew computer club into the tour.
> I object to the narrative above. I'm from the era and can speak from experience. But I've posted before what microcomputing was like in the mid-1970's. Frankly, my views are not well received, they run counter to popular narrative.
> Let's try this. If the exhibit goal is to show what people did with their early Altair's and IMSAI's - go to a collection of BYTE, Kiloboaud, People's Computer Company, 73 magazine, and other publications of the era. See what people PUBLISHED! At the time! and exhibit THAT stuff! If you can find someone to make those items from parts and wires, not a handy kit and imported PC boards. One can't deny what was published at the time. It was more than playing tunes or running Star Trek. People MADE stuff, it's a fact of the era, and it was greatly respected.
> You can use those same magazines, to show how such work was COMMON, even popular, and economically valuable. Popular Electronics and other magazines were full of such projects, going back DECADES. Kits made sales economically possible for most people. the MITS Altair, like the Ford Model T, was a breakthrough product, and for comparable reasons.
> "Primitive and useless". So is a baby!
> Herb Johnson
Mike Loewen mloewen@...
Old Technology http://sturgeon.css.psu.edu/~mloewen/Oldtech/
- --- In email@example.com, "Evan Koblentz" <evan@...> wrote:
>If several people say the same thing independently, it's not a "gang", it's informative. And it's not personal. What Evan reasonably states is a common problem, not just Corey's. It's MY problem too, on my site, with my vintage work. And other's as well, who own collections and who have Web sites. And museums, like MARCH.
> Corey -- "primitive and useless" isn't quite fair.
> Everyone -- in Corey's defense, he is just trying to find a balance between showing visitors what early S100 systems could do, in terms of their applications, vs. what it takes for we museum guides to demonstrate those applications. Let's not gang up on the man for trying to help.
Also: the answer is not just more "apps". "Apps" are for smartphones, in the modern world of networking, with billions of computers. What was it like, in a world with DOZENS of computers? Or THOUSANDS? That cost more than a car, or a house? Can you imagine that?
Altairs needed a lot of hardware, software, and creativity. As produced, they were "hopelessly primitive". It's about how they were USED, and how that process contributed to creating personal computing. I described some of that previously. I think it's an exciting story. But it will require some counter-narrative, documents, posters, handouts. And some construction and re-construction of artifacts. MARCH has a fair amount of stuff to choose from, and people who know what I'm talking about.
I think there's a simple choice. Either show the Altair as "hopelessly primitive", "demoed" in its native "mint" state, which was never how it was used. Or SHOW and interpret the history around it that created personal computing, with artifacts and documents, and a narrative. The latter is harder work, no doubt about that.
But this is an opportunity, not a "gang-up".
- Does the museum have more than one, and space to display more than one? If
yes, why not have one in each state? One with primitive blinky lights only,
and another fully decked out...
I think there's a simple choice. Either show the Altair as "hopelessly
primitive", "demoed" in its native "mint" state, which was never how it was
used. Or SHOW and interpret the history around it that created personal
computing, with artifacts and documents, and a narrative. The latter is
harder work, no doubt about that.
- Wesley Furr <wesley@...> wrote:
>Does the museum have more than one, and space to display more than one?Corey is the person doing all the work so he and Evan are going to have the most say here...thanks Corey for doing the actual time. No one is stopping anyone from contributing improvements or add-ons over time, For example a wire-wrapped IO card, analog to digital card, homebrew cassette card, etc.
>yes, why not have one in each state? One with primitive blinky lights
>and another fully decked out...
>I think there's a simple choice. Either show the Altair as "hopelessly
>primitive", "demoed" in its native "mint" state, which was never how it
>used. Or SHOW and interpret the history around it that created personal
>computing, with artifacts and documents, and a narrative. The latter is
>harder work, no doubt about that.
>Yahoo! Groups Links
Sent from my PDP 8/e.
- Just to finish the thread, I'm going to repost something Corey added in another thread recently, "museum report". I think it's better to reply in this thread because the subject is specific here. And I'm quoting it for a reason. One correction is in 's.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, corey986 <no_reply@...> wrote:
> As for the Altair... I brought MARCH's bytesaver 32k and my bytesaver 8k. When I opened the machine to my surprise there was a not date correct tanner 32k ram/rom card. So I popped out a ram chip, changed a couple of jumpers and borrowed a radio from the guys next door and enjoyed a few rounds of fool on the hill and daisy. I have a nice video ill post up later.
> I'll look around when we get our working 1975 rom card back for a date correct ram board. Now remember our Altair at march is serial number 72 delivered around January 1975, when really the altair wasn't much more than a CPU and ram card. It took a couple of months for people to actually get more than 256 [bytes, not kbytes] of ram and a Terminal hooked up.
>I know people around here argue as to what the intended use of the altair was in the early days (first few months), but after a blinky light display many people were hungry to make this thing be a "real" computer and do productive things. By mid 1975 we know they were doing much more. Herb has mentioned it on many occasions that people used them to "make" stuff and magazines were established and groups established to just show off what you could do with the machine... But it started somewhere with blinky lights and very early on with a Steve Dompier and a song called Fool on the hill about 3 months after the March Altair was delivered and maybe even assembled.
> Having a ROM card setup for demos hopefully will strike a balance between our "as delivered" early altair and the reality of being able to demo it for tours.
Thanks Corey, on my behalf, for offering a complete description of what this particular MITS Altair is supposed to represent, and your experience with it. It's brilliant, and I'll explain WHY.
Only one minor correction: Magazines to "make stuff" existed DECADES before the Altair, including making computers (as best one could at the time). Some magazines around personal computing started just before the Altair; and many more after, which was your point.
I think it's very reasonable to have an exhibit just as Corey describes. But let's be clear: he's saying "this is a very early representation of what MITS first offered in 1975. Here's what it had....here's what it could do at that point." That's the exhibit - a point in time, now complete with a explanation. Corey provided the explanation. Frankly, that needs to be part of the exhibit too.
Why? Look at our discussion, look at the history. Without the explanation, even Corey is obliged to notice how "primitive" the Altair as delivered looks and acts. Any visitors with less knowledge (most of them) will come to the same conclusion, and miss the relevance and context.
So what this exhibit needs is called "interpretation" - text and pictures, artifacts, at the exhibit to say what Corey has said. As it leads to other exhibits (this was posted previously), that text serves as introduction to those.
Also: additional cards like the ROM card, other things Bill Degnan, Corey, et al suggested - they can be added for convenience of demonstration, that's important. Also, added short-term to change the exhibit, or otherwise to demonstrate some particular device or program. Exhibits change over time, they get boring otherwise. Explanation is simple: "this was added to do this, or to celebrate this person or thing, and produced on this date". Again, Corey's statement explains the need to add things, while preserving the "as first sold" concept of the exhibit.
Finally - Corey's experience is much the same as any Altair owner's was. I got the machine....I assembled it and it runs...now what do I do with it? So his discussion about his own experience has recreated the circumstances of the period. Our discussions repeat the discussions of the era. This too, could be "captured" and possibly added to the exhibit, as background.
This process, of repair and understanding of past technology in context, and capture of the process in restorations today - This is how my Web site works, so I'm talking about what I actually do. Same applies to other people in this thread.
You need to know the past, to restore these machines for the future. Software and docs, hardware, ads and publications of the period - they make no sense without that knowledge, they aren't worth preserving if considered in modern terms. So you have to be informed, and our discussion and Corey's experience was exactly that process. The challenge now, in my opinion, is how to inform our museum visitors, to take them through that same process, with the "as sold" Altair as a physical artifact.