My Altair rigs

May 22, 2019
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I have always liked the front panel switches of computers like the Altair, Imasai 8080, and the PDP-11.

When I discovered the Altairduino last year, I had to have one. Then I found the Altair Clone, and I picked up one of those, as well, mostly because of the full size case.

Both computers faithfully reproduce the look and feel of using the Altair 8800 microcomputer from 1975, but they each have a different focus and direction.

The Altair Clone is, visually, a high fidelity reproduction. The case and front panel look much more like the real thing, and the case's dimensions are the same as the original Altair 8800. The Altairduino is a more compact system, with just a front panel - scaled to 90%.

While the Clone seems like the obvious choice for retro geeks, it has some limitations - it does not have USB connectivity, and it can only hold 3 disk images in its internal memory. The Altairduino runs on a faster processor, and David Hansel (the software guy behind the Arduino emulation) has been adding features like crazy. The software is open source and editable in the Arduino IDE, so adding features or changing behavior is fairly easy.

Here are some pictures:
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This is the Altairduino, with the new prototype case from Chris. Obviously, the colors are wrong, but that's something we can correct with some adhesive backed vinyl...

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and a comparison of the Altair Clone and the 'duino

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May 22, 2019
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Also, it should be noted that the Altair does not have a video display. While there was a video board eventually offered for the original Altair, none of the emulators have integrated video.

Instead, I'm using either my PC (with terminal software) or a Raspberry Pi. The image above is Minicom running on Linux, and I'm working on a custom terminal program for Windows, as well.