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Altair

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== Altair, Computer in a Kit  ==
 
== Altair, Computer in a Kit  ==
  
[[Image:Altair 1.jpg|thumb|left|Altair 8800, a computer in a kit. Buyers had to assemble Altair themselves. The computer had no keyboard and no display; it was programmed with the switches on the front panel. Courtesy: Computer Museum of America.]]  
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[[Image:Altair 1.jpg|thumb|right|Altair 8800, a computer in a kit. Buyers had to assemble Altair themselves. The computer had no keyboard and no display; it was programmed with the switches on the front panel. Courtesy: Computer Museum of America.]]  
  
 
The development of the [[Early Microprocessors|microprocessor]] by the Intel Corporation made it possible to build an inexpensive personal computer. The microprocessor is a complex circuit, built into a single chip of silicon, that can perform the basic functions of a computer. Intel had designed a microprocessor (the first one was the 4004, delivered in 1971) for use in a scientific calculator.  
 
The development of the [[Early Microprocessors|microprocessor]] by the Intel Corporation made it possible to build an inexpensive personal computer. The microprocessor is a complex circuit, built into a single chip of silicon, that can perform the basic functions of a computer. Intel had designed a microprocessor (the first one was the 4004, delivered in 1971) for use in a scientific calculator.  
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Though the microprocessor made an inexpensive personal computer a possibility, no company hurried to develop such a product. It was computer hobbyists who first built such a device, and the first hobbyist kit for a microprocessor-based computer was the Altair 8800—which used the Intel 8800 chip—offered for the first time in January 1975. It was inexpensive, about $400, but the hobbyist had to construct it himself and it was difficult to use. There was no keyboard or display; the hobbyist programmed the computer using a panel of switches and read the output from a panel of neon bulbs. Nevertheless, the Altair attracted a great deal of attention, and entrepreneurs developed supplementary equipment and software to make it easier to use. Two years later, in 1977, an easy-to-use, inexpensive, and fully assembled computer—the Apple II—became available.  
 
Though the microprocessor made an inexpensive personal computer a possibility, no company hurried to develop such a product. It was computer hobbyists who first built such a device, and the first hobbyist kit for a microprocessor-based computer was the Altair 8800—which used the Intel 8800 chip—offered for the first time in January 1975. It was inexpensive, about $400, but the hobbyist had to construct it himself and it was difficult to use. There was no keyboard or display; the hobbyist programmed the computer using a panel of switches and read the output from a panel of neon bulbs. Nevertheless, the Altair attracted a great deal of attention, and entrepreneurs developed supplementary equipment and software to make it easier to use. Two years later, in 1977, an easy-to-use, inexpensive, and fully assembled computer—the Apple II—became available.  
  
[[Category:Components,_circuits,_devices_&_systems|Category:Components,_circuits,_devices_&_systems]] [[Category:Circuitry]] [[Category:Microprocessors]] [[Category:Computer_classes]] [[Category:Calculators]] [[Category:News]]
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[[Category:Components,_circuits,_devices_&_systems|Category:Components,_circuits,_devices_&_systems]]
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[[Category:News]]

Revision as of 14:39, 10 May 2012

Altair, Computer in a Kit

Altair 8800, a computer in a kit. Buyers had to assemble Altair themselves. The computer had no keyboard and no display; it was programmed with the switches on the front panel. Courtesy: Computer Museum of America.
Altair 8800, a computer in a kit. Buyers had to assemble Altair themselves. The computer had no keyboard and no display; it was programmed with the switches on the front panel. Courtesy: Computer Museum of America.

The development of the microprocessor by the Intel Corporation made it possible to build an inexpensive personal computer. The microprocessor is a complex circuit, built into a single chip of silicon, that can perform the basic functions of a computer. Intel had designed a microprocessor (the first one was the 4004, delivered in 1971) for use in a scientific calculator.

A 1975 edition of Popular Electronics announcing Altair.
A 1975 edition of Popular Electronics announcing Altair.

Though the microprocessor made an inexpensive personal computer a possibility, no company hurried to develop such a product. It was computer hobbyists who first built such a device, and the first hobbyist kit for a microprocessor-based computer was the Altair 8800—which used the Intel 8800 chip—offered for the first time in January 1975. It was inexpensive, about $400, but the hobbyist had to construct it himself and it was difficult to use. There was no keyboard or display; the hobbyist programmed the computer using a panel of switches and read the output from a panel of neon bulbs. Nevertheless, the Altair attracted a great deal of attention, and entrepreneurs developed supplementary equipment and software to make it easier to use. Two years later, in 1977, an easy-to-use, inexpensive, and fully assembled computer—the Apple II—became available.