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MITS Altair 8800

See below for specifications and information on this system.

Specifications and information

Key Dates: January, 1975 Announcement (cover of Popular Electronics)
April, 1975 General Availability
May, 1977 MITS sold to Pertec
June, 1978 Altair production discontinued
Original Price: Altair 8800 computer: $439 kit, $621 assembled (includes CPU board, front panel control board, power supply, and expander board)
Expander board (adds 4 slots), $16 kit, $31 assembled
1K static RAM: $97 kit, $139 assembled
2K static RAM: $145 kit, $195 assembled
4K dynamic RAM: $195 kit, $275 assembled
SIOA serial interface: $119 kit, $139 assembled
PIO parallel interface: $92 kit, $114 assembled
Cassette interface: $128 kit, $175 assembled
CPU: S-100 card (MITS Intel 8080 card installed)
Memory: S-100 card (4K RAM installed)
Operating System: CP/M
Input/Output: S-100 card (MITS serial port card)
Bus: S-100 (a.k.a. Altair bus)
Other Items in Collection: Second machine
Items Needed: Disk units

The MITS Altair 8800 is widely known as the first real personal computer.

Additional Altair 8800 Photos

Here are some more detailed photos of the Altair 8800. Click a thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture!

UNIT 1

UNIT 2

Full Exterior View. Note that Unit #2 does not have the logo trim strip along the bottom front edge. This was an optional item.
Interior view. Note the upgraded power supply on Unit #1 versus the stock 8800 power supply on Unit #2.
3/4 perspective interior views. There's a lot of empty space with only the basic 4-slot motherboard installed in Unit #2.
Closeup of the 4-slot motherboard in unit #2. Note the individually hand-wired bus connections.
The Altair 8800 CPU board Rev 0
Unit #2 in operation, low light shows the glowing LEDs!
Rear panels. Unit #1 has the optional fan.
Serial number labels. MITS' serial numbers are notorious for not following any logical progression.

For more Altair photos, see the Altair 8800b and Altair 8800b Turnkey pages!

MITS Advertisements

Here are some classic advertisements for the Altair. Click a thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture!

In Christmas of 1975, if you had been very good, Santa might bring you an Altair! December 1975
"If Napoleon had owned an Altair. Things might have turned out differently." February 1976
"The MITS Altair 8800. (It's showing up in some of the most unusual places.)" April 1976
This text-free ad echoes old Russian propaganda posters. May 1976
Here's an ad featuring the Altair "family" circa October 1976: the 680, 8800b, and 8800a

Altair 8800 Model Comparison

Here's a rundown of the feature differences between the four Altair 8800 models.

  8800 8800a 8800b 8800bt
Introduced January 1975 October 1976 August 1976 October 1977
CPU 8080 8080 8080A 8080A
Power Supply Unspecified 8 amps 18 amps 18 amps
Fan Optional Yes Yes Yes
Motherboard 4-slot, expandable Single-piece 18-slot Single-piece 18-slot Single-piece 18-slot
Front Panel Switches Short & round Long & flat Long & flat Only 2 switches
Front Panel Connection Harness Harness Edge connectors Small ribbon cable

See Also

Altair 680
Altair 8800b
Altair 8800b Turnkey
IBM 5100 (also launched in 1975)
Collection Index of S-100 Bus Machines

Altair Links

Virtual Altair Museum
Jones Telecommunications & Multimedia Encyclopedia entry on MITS -

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Last modified: April 17, 2003