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COUNTRY SCIENTIST

By Forrest M. Mims, Amateur Scientist

Startups: Origins of the PC Revolution

TODAY’S SMARTPHONES AND TABLETS,

laptop and desktop computers all trace their ancestry to the arrival of the hobby computer era of the 1970s.

After Intel introduced its 8008 microprocessor in 1972, several individuals and teams began using the new chip to build DIY computers. But these computers made little progress due to the 8008’s limited capabilities.

The computer revolution was jump-started in 1975 when MITS, Inc., a small electronics company that I co-founded in Albuquerque, N.M., announced the Altair 8800, a kit computer designed around Intel’s ...

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