Chapter 29 The Kit That Launched the Tech Revolution

Personal computers, laptops, and tablets were only a dream in 1975. Back then, electronics hobbyists were mesmerized by the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine (Figure 29-1). The cover showed a metal box with rows of toggle switches and LEDs under a label that read “Altair 8800.” Boldly printed over the photo were these words: “Project Breakthrough! World’s First Minicomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models.”

The Altair was developed by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), a nearly bankrupt company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The company’s president and chief engineer was the late Ed Roberts (Figure 29-2), a no-nonsense visionary who had dreamed of building ...

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