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Fire in the Valley, 3rd Edition by Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine

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Going for Broke

Why don’t you call it Altair? That’s where the Enterprise is going tonight.

–Lauren Solomon, daughter of Popular Electronics editor Les Solomon (like other Solomon stories, possibly apocryphal)

Ed Roberts made a decision of his own that spring—he was going to build a kit computer. He had been toying with the idea for some time only to find that by early 1974 the chips, so to speak, were down. MITS’s calculator business had blown away like desert sand, leaving the company heavily in debt. Faced with the likelihood of going under, Roberts decided to go for broke. He would build a product that had essentially no precedent or defined market, a product most people considered fanciful at best. But the specter of bankruptcy only ...

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