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View Full Version : IMSAI ads didn't show how good it looked



Floppies_only
June 8th, 2008, 10:16 AM
Gang,

I get my internet access at the public terminals at the University of Washington. One day several years ago I mis-remembered that Byte magazine had the listing for Spacewar on the 8085, so I looked to see if the University library had it, and they did, in the Engineering library.

Recently my eBay searches for IMSAI have turned up old Popular Electronics magazines for sale, so I went to see if the Engineering Library had those, too. They did, and I looked at the issues that were supposed to feature articles on the IMSAI. There weren't any, although I did make some copies of other stuff (CB Radio expanded to 40 channels, computer interupts explained, but not very well, "How to select a hobbyist computer").

The November, 1976 issue of Popular Electronics had a one page ad for the IMSAI. "if you thought a rugged, professional yet affordable computer didn't exist,

think
IMSAI
8080."

It has a picture that takes 1/4 of the page to show the computer sitting on it's right side with the cover removed and three cards installed and one card halfway installed. There is a very small picture, two inches wide, showing the computer's front panel.

In April of '77, IIRC, they had a four page ad that didn't show the front panel. I remember seeing two other ads that were tiny and in the back of the magazine, listing prices for certain boards.

I suspect that the ad agency that handled the account either wanted to emphasise the usability of the computer, and so they didn't make a point of really showing off the front panel (so people wouldn't think that all they could do with it is flip switches), or else they didn't understand the attractiveness of the front panel. Personally, I think it's very attractive.

Oh, in the four page ad they listed a video board (for 1100 bucks!), a 53-key keyboard, and a narrow width printer as IMSAI peripherals. There was more but I misplaced my Xeroxes of the ad.

Byte magazine had no article on the IMSAI, and I don't recall finding any ads, either.

I just feel cheated, as if they had done a better job of advertising, there would have been more IMSAIs for us to get our greedy little hands on :)

Sean

alltare
June 19th, 2008, 10:18 PM
Sean-
Hmmm, I recall that 'everyone' knew about IMSAIs back then, and there was plenty of information about them, including lots of ads. For quite a while, the two big names were Altair and IMSAI. I think you may be looking in the wrong places for articles. Rather than Popular Electronics, try looking at old issues of Byte (they HAD to have articles about the IMSAI, I'm sure), Interface, Interface Age, Kilobaud, Personal Computing, and other early computer mags.

By the way, I liked the looks of IMSAI's front panel- certainly classier than the Altair 8800/8800a and at least on a par with the 8800b. I particularly thought that those nice looking wide IMSAI paddle switches would be easier to use than Altair's toggle switches. I thought so until I actually got my hands on an IMSAI to play with for awhile, when I quickly realized that because there was almost no space between the paddles, I could not tell by touch where one switch ended and the next one began, so I always had to glance at the front panel as I entered code from a written listing. With the Altair, there was enough space between switches that I could sort of tell which ones were which without looking at them, and could therefore enter code 'by feel' quite a bit faster.

Floppies_only
September 11th, 2008, 04:43 PM
I particularly thought that those nice looking wide IMSAI paddle switches would be easier to use than Altair's toggle switches. I thought so until I actually got my hands on an IMSAI to play with for awhile, when I quickly realized that because there was almost no space between the paddles, I could not tell by touch where one switch ended and the next one began, so I always had to glance at the front panel as I entered code from a written listing. With the Altair, there was enough space between switches that I could sort of tell which ones were which without looking at them, and could therefore enter code 'by feel' quite a bit faster.

I think that the right way to do this is to memorize the four digit binary codes for the numbers 0 through F. That way, you can memorize the next byte of program code, say "C2", look at the switches, take the first number of it, "C", and enter "1100" for the high nibble of switches, then take the second number, "2", and enter "0010" for the low nibble of switches all without looking back at the program listing, and go on to the next byte. The authors of the manual for my Science Fair Microcomputer Trainer wanted students to learn the binary equivilents of the hexadecimal numbers and I am guessing that it was for this purpose. Not specifically to program in binary, but to program on paper and be able to do hexadecimal arithmatic. I made flashcards to learn to add (and by extension, sutract) in hex this way. Although I admit that after much practice I never did manage to memorize the codes :)

Sean

johnx993
November 5th, 2008, 09:46 PM
I remember there were some nice looking full page ads in Scientific American.

-J

johnx993
November 5th, 2008, 09:56 PM
Although MITS and IMSAI did some nice ads, they definitely didn't flood the media with them. After the first year, almost every computer savvy person knew about them. They really didn't need to get the word out - except for those newbies out of the loop that didn't already KNOW the various merits/pitfalls of each machine. And of course, when the "appliance computers" made the scene, it was like advertising for detergent or toothpaste - a much wider market.

Ferrari makes great sports cars, right?
When was the last time you saw an ad by Ferrari?

-J

Terry Yager
November 6th, 2008, 09:01 AM
Ferrari makes great sports cars, right?
When was the last time you saw an ad by Ferrari?

-J

Or PBR! A lot of people scoff at it simply because it costs a little less than other American Lagers. They assume it must be bad beer on the basis that it's 'cheep' beer, but there's a good reason it costs less...they don't advertize in any major media, but unlike other corporate giants, pass the savings along to their loyal customers, rather than lining their own pockets.

--T