Personal Computers 30 Years Ago


Last week, close to 20,000 Microsoft employees gathered together at Safeco field to celebrate Microsoft’s 30 year anniversary. It was a very cheerful event. This prompted me to search trough my collection of books and magazines to find out what was the personal computer world like 30 years ago. Here are some pieces I found:



Wang System 2200 (Ad, December 1974)


The new Wang System 2200 is a System. It gives you the raw power and the peripherals you must have for a wide range of problem solving. For under $7,500 you get a CPU with 16K bytes of BASIC language instructions hardwired into the electronics, … plus a 4K operating memory. You also get a big 16 lines (of 64 characters each) CRT display, a console mag tape drive and your choice of either alpha or BASIC Keyword keyboards.


The Affordable Computer ! (Altair 8800 Ad, April 1975)


The engineers who designed the Altair Computer designed the Altair to be a powerful, general purpose computer that sells for $439.00 in kit form and $621.00 assembled. They did it without sacrificing performance or quality. 78 basic machine instructions, a cycle time of 2 microseconds, and buss orientation make the Altair computer ideal for thousands of existing and new applications. The Altair computer can directly address up to 65,000 words of memory and 256 input/output devices. It can be connected to a growing number of Altair Computer Options such as memory boards, parallel and serial interface boards, floppy disc storage, audio tape interfaces, alpha-numeric displays and keyboards, computer terminals, line-printers, etc.


1,000 word static memory cards, $176.00 kit & $254.00 assembled.


4,000 word static memory cards, $264.00 kit & $338.00 assembled.


Altair computers come with complete documentation and operating instruction. Altair customers receive software and general computer information through free membership to the Altair User’s group. Software now available includes a resident assembler, system monitor and text editor. Basic language soon to be available.


MITS/6328 Linn, NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 97108.


The Land Of Altair (Altair 8800 Ad, September 1975)



The Altair is backed by an extensive software development program. Altair BASIC and EXTENDED BASIC language are designed for most computer needs from business to home to scientific applications. Other software includes an Assembler, Text Editor, System Monitor, Debug, and Disk Operating System..


Altair 4K BASIC, $350.00


Altair 8K BASIC, $500.00


IBM’s new 5100 Portable Computer (Ad, December 1975)



The new IBM 5100 Portable Computer incorporates the latest in semi-conductor technology. It features a typewriter-like keyboard and numeric key-pad for simplified data entry, a 1024 character display screen, an integrated magnetic tape drive, and 16K characters of memory. Options available includes a bi-directional 80 character per second printer, a second magnetic tape drive, and additional memory up to a maximum of 64K characters. The IBM 5100 comes with either APL or BASIC language or both. (The 5100 sold for between $8,975 and $19,975).


Comments (2)

  1. FatCatHu says:

    Bill’s BASIC is cooool !!

  2. Pepper says:

    A great little blast from the past Feng. Thanks.