Altair 8800

The Altair 8800 computer was the first “successful” personal computer, with 25,000 units sold.

You can purchase a replica of one of these units from

Another option is to build your own, although it’s much easier to purchase the kit, and will look much nicer too.

You can program the Altair 8800 from the front panel switches.  At first, this is how most users would originally program the machine.  Terminals became less expensive, and more widely used.  At this point, users would operate this computer in a more modern way.

The Altair had 8 inch floppy drives, but of course the 5 1/4 disks came out shortly after (called a mini-disk).  You could even run Hard Drives.  In this case, 4Mb is a lot of hard disk storage.

A common operating system for the Altair is CP/M (Control Program/Monitor).   If you use the command prompt in windows, or have ever used DOS (Disk Operating System) you will have no problem with CP/M.  A lot of the ideas from CP/M are in DOS.

By using CP/M, you will be able to run programs such as WordStar, or SuperCalc.  These are an early word processor and spreadsheet.

With a WIFI modem, you will even be able to connect to the Internet.  I use IMP Modem Executive to connect to telnet BBS (Bulletin Board Systems.)

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Altair 8800


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