The First Popular Personal Computer
The Altair 8800 created by MITS of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is known as the first popular personal computer that was available to all Americans. The Altair 8800 was released in January 1975 in the front-page article of Popular Electronics Magazine. The designer, Ed Roberts, planned to sell only a few hundred to hobbyists, but was astonished when he sold thousands in the first month. Although the Altair was not the very first microprocessor-based personal computer, it is know as the first “popular” personal computer because of its pervasive press coverage and availability; its low cost design and software which allowed thousands to buy it; and its expandability which led to the founding of many companies to offer S-100 bus compatible products.
The Altair 8800 is considered by many to be the first "personal computer", or a computer that is obtainable. Before the release of the Altair 8800, there weren’t any computer or electronic stores to buy your own computers from. There were only opportunities to form your own processor from designs and plans, which were distributed or published in magazines and other sources. Finding and obtaining all of the parts required to construct the computer was the owner’s individual responsibility. The MITS Altair 8800 was first released in the front-page article of Popular Electronics Magazine’s January and February editions in 1975. The Altair 8800 was launched at just the right time. There was already a substantial customer base that had knowledge concerning computers and desired to have one. Some of these customers included colleges, electronics hobbyists, schools, organizations, etc. The processor was sold by mail order through advertisements in Popular Electronics, Radio-Electronics and other hobbyist magazines. Both kits and fully assembled machines were available through mail orders.
MITS’ president and founder Ed Roberts designed the MITS Altair 8800 in 1974. The processor...
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