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

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The Competition

There was no competition until Processor Tech came out with the memory cards.

–Ed Roberts, founder of MITS

MITS was a catalyst.

Perhaps more by chance than by design, the MITS operation inspired the creation of an entire industry. But that also meant that MITS spawned competitors, and from Roberts’s perspective, competitors were poaching on his territory. You could see it in the way he reacted to the memory situation. When MITS began delivering its 4K memory boards, it didn’t take long for customers to notice what Paul Allen already knew: the boards didn’t work. “I don’t think I’d trust an Altair memory board to do anything,” one MITS executive later admitted.

Defective Memory

Although Roberts eventually acknowledged the ...

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