Due to the saint-level kindness of Don Miller, the
Museum now physically contains an Altair 8800. As near as
I can tell, it seems to work. The A3 LED isn't working,
but everything else seems to flash appropriately.
Altair Front Panel
- Just the front panel, in dim light so you can
see the lights. Notice that the A3 LED isn't
MITS Logo - The
legendary MITS Logo in dim light. The colors are
wrong, but you can see the actual logo better.
MITS Logo - The
same logo, under strong lighting. The colors are
correct, but it's hard to make out the MITS logo.
Backside of the
Front Panel - This is the back side of the
board holding all those toggle switches and LEDs.
A ribbon cable connects this panel to the
Back of Case -
Jacks for a tape drive and a TTY terminal are
included. There is also a video jack, but it's
not actually connected to anything.
Power Supply - Now
that's a power supply! Watch your fingers,
there's nothing protecting the ignorant here.
S-100 Bus -
Every card, from the CPU, to memory, to the I/O
plugs in here. Notice the nice plastic
stabilizing bars on either side. I've seen other
Altairs that lack these, so I don't know if they
are official MITS stuff or not.
S-100 Bus Cards. These cards
comprise the actual computer. The rest of the
case justs hooks them together and supplies the
- The white chip is the 8080. These S-100
bus computers did not have a motherboard
like current PCs. The processor card was
just another card on the bus. Computers
designed like this were very flexible.
Eventually, the cost advantages of
cramming everything on a single board
made motherboards the dominant
The tricked out Altair below belongs to Max Lockwood
and has a real keyboard, monitor, printer, and paper tape
reader. It still works. Max and his son, James, left a
simple program running on it for days. According to Max:
"our Altair is still using the original
processing board and two of the original memory
boards. Working around the poor design of the Altair
and creating modifications to upgrade it to the
present level of operation required a lot of