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Altair 8800

The Altair 8800

List Price: US $395 as a kit, US $650 assembled

Release Date: February 1975

The Altair 8800 from Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems (MITS) of Albuquerque, NM, is considered by many to be the first “personal computer” – a computer that is easily affordable and obtainable.

At this point in time, there were no computer or electronic stores to buy your own computer. The only options were to build your own system from plans and designs published or sold in magazines and other sources. It was the individual owner’s responsibility to find and acquire all the parts necessary to assemble it.

The Altair 8800, was first featured in the January and February 1975 editions of Popular Electronics magazine, although this early design bore little resemblance to the finalized version released just a few months later. Up until this point, MITS was known for selling calculators and model rocket components (telemetry).

The Altair 8800 included everything in one kit – assembly instructions, metal case, power supply, and all of the boards and components required to build “the most powerful computer ever presented as a construction project in any electronics magazine”.

It took many days and nights of careful soldering and assembly to hopefully create a working Altair. Only true hackers would undertake such an endeavor.