Donor: (Looking it up...)
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Think of the Imsai as the Altair's better looking and more popular younger cousin. Generally accepted as
the second personal computer, after the Altair, the Imsai was much more popular. It also received
more fame, with a starring role in the seminal movie War Games.
Visually, nothing beats those funky red and blue toggle switches. As you can see in this particular model,
the switches are, in actuality, just plain old metal toggles. The red and blue plastic just snaps over the
existing switches. While it's tempting to think that the plastic covers add no functional value, they do.
It's much easier to tell which switches are on or off, which is pretty important when that's your main way of
This particular model has seen some obvious wear, including the loss of several toggles. But it did clean
up quite nicely. The dual disk drive unit that came with it, however, has been a bit more of a challenge.
Some sort of animal or insect took up residence in it at some time. I've been trying to clean it out, but
if I spray air in the front, I'll just push the debris in further. The strong metal casing prevents me
from blowing air into the rear of the drives. And the screws holding the drives in the unit casing are rusted
tight. I'm still working on getting it opened up and cleaned out. But this might take awhile, as I certainly
don't want to damage it while trying to clean it.
As in the Altair, the power supply is plenty beefy looking. As it's
exposed, there are big red warning messages. The supply bay was pretty packed with debris. A nice
method for cleaning in such crevasses is to wrap masking tape sticky side out around the end of a pencil
and poke it down into the crevasse.
Here's a shot straight down. Again, power on the right, S-100 card bus and cards on
the left. Notice how far out the plastic switches protrude. No wonder several have snapped off over the
S-100 Cards. Unlike today's computers, there is no "motherboard".
The processor resides on a card just like the memory and the I/O. This shot shows the component side
of the boards.