View Full Version : The source of the Altair name

July 2nd, 2004, 08:32 AM
Thomas (Todd) Fischer posted another gem to comp.os.cpm.

I've copied it here for those who may not wish to brave usenet! :)

Hello All,

The recent sequence of events related to the broughaha started by the erroneous suggestion/statement that the pioneering Altair 8800 copied the (falsely) "earlier IMSAI bus" has yielded another gem of historical documentation. Search the internet and books for histories of the Altair and Ed Roberts and you'll find several interpretations or claims as to how the "Altair" name came to be. On July 1, 2004, Ed Roberts replied to my question of this as follows: (note that I have made several edits to grammar and punctuation)

The name "Altair" was a suggestion made by Les Solomon after watching an episode of Star Trek, actually came from his daughter. This was the only contribution that Les made to the design of the Altair, contrary to popular myth.


"Go forth and multiply" (correction of the wrong!)
Regards to all,

-Thomas "Todd" Fischer

July 4th, 2004, 12:38 PM
Oh, I thought that was common knowledge since many years ago. I read it when visiting a computer museum 199x in their accompaning magazine. The Altair was a flying creature featured in that Star Trek episode if I understood it correctly.

Terry Yager
July 4th, 2004, 04:22 PM
Isn't there a star (asteroid?) or something named Altair? Mebbe there should be...and one named Imsai as well. Anybody remember the website to go to to suggest names for astral objects? (I used to have it somewhere).


Terry Yager
July 5th, 2004, 12:53 PM
So I'm watching this movie that just came on (10 minutes ago) on the Turner Classic Movie Network, called Forbidden Planet, (1956, Walter Pigeon). So far, it's about these guys in a spaceship who are flying to planet of a star named Altair. (Upon arrival, they meet a robot named "Robie"). Anybody else ever seen this movie? So anyways, now I'm still wondering, is Altair the name of an actual star, or is it just a science-fiction thing?


July 5th, 2004, 01:20 PM
Altair: brightest star in the constellation Aquila (Eagle); Bayer designation Aquilae; 1992 position R.A. 19h50.5m, Dec. +851. Its apparent magnitude is 0.74, making it one of the 20 brightest stars in the sky, and it is of spectral class A7 IV,V. Altair is one of the nearest bright stars, its distance being 16.8 light-years.

"Altair" is supposedly old Arabic for "flying eagle". However, I'm not as sure that there is an Imsai star or other space body.

Terry Yager
July 5th, 2004, 01:42 PM
Well, if Frank Zappa can have an asteriod named after him, why not name one "Imsai?" (Any clue whether the word means anything?)


July 5th, 2004, 02:16 PM
"Information Management Sciences Associates Incorporated", but that was not what you meant? The only other reference I found was from some Czech-speaking guestbook, but I dunno if "imsai" or other spelling variants makes up a proper Czech word.

July 5th, 2004, 02:56 PM
I've also heard the planet "Altair" mentioned on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.