On this day in 1974, MITS started selling the Altair 8800 microcomputer in kit form. Beginning of an era and an empire.
I remember the Popular Electronics issue (Jan '75, I think) with the Altair on the cover pretty well. It was a turning point for me at the time, pretty much cementing my desire to be in the computer field. The Altair quickly broke all the records for kits and set many standards. For years to come, kit computers were measured by the Altair standard. However, there were copycat clones on the market within 6 months, and due to various reasons (including greed), the MITS company fell by the wayside.
- The first article machine was lost due to a shipping strike affecting rail deliveries.
- MITS originally got started by selling model rocket kits in 1969.
- Forrest M. Mims (a boyhood hero of mine) was one of the co-founders of MITS, along with Ed Roberts
- MITS expanded their line of kits with the Opticom, featured in PopTronics in about 1971.
- They expanded into calculators, getting shoved out of that market by TI in 1972.
- Finally, Bill Gates started Microsoft by offering a version of BASIC for the Altair, thus starting the evil empire ;)
Here is the Wiki entry for the Altair MITS8800
...73's DE Steve> (KB4OID)