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

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The Altair’s First Recital

There was nothing he could have said to prepare us for what happened.

–Lee Felsenstein, on Steve Dompier’s Homebrew demo

On the evening of April 16, 1975, during a Homebrew Computer Club meeting, Steve Dompier put on a show to remember. But Dompier was no showman. A slender, quick-moving young man with straight hair down to the middle of his back, he wore jeans and a nondescript sport shirt and “spoke quickly in a young person’s idiom,” Lee Felsenstein remembers, “filling in with ‘stuff’ when he saw no need to be more precise.”

But Dompier had in his possession an actual Altair. Few of the people there had seen one. Because MITS wasn’t delivering Altairs yet, Dompier had to earn his by flying to Albuquerque to ...

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