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Thread: Loaded Altair 8800 discovered yesterday with tons of paperwork & punch tape programs

  1. #1

    Default Loaded Altair 8800 discovered yesterday with tons of paperwork & punch tape programs

    Well, this happened. This was the crown jewel of that estate I cleaned out a couple weeks ago. Barely made a dent in the pile, but had to post this up.

    Sadly, it'll need a full restoration. Mice have been living in it for DECADES... and their pee/poo turned to a hard brown tar sludge. What a mess.

    I know -nothing- about S100 systems, but looks like she's pretty loaded.

    Punch tapes are very cool. I've never held something like this before.

    I did find a Royal punch tape machine as well, not sure if that's what they were using with this system.

    Also found a TON of old paper ephemera. Every issue of Computer Notes from Vol1 Issue1 April 1975 on. Byte magazine. You name it.

    The machine is NOT for sale. I will be selling anything that was not original to the system however as I want it to be as it came from the factory (aside from being a kit that is!).

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  2. #2

  3. #3
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    Ugh, too bad the mice took up residence in there! Hopefully it cleans up alright for you.

    My advice would be to keep the board set that came with it -- going back to "factory" is 256 bytes RAM and the CPU card, that's it. Not very useful. Essentially no Altair 8800 was ever an "all-MITS" machine in its time, MITS was too slow coming out with the boards people needed, and their designs were not as good as third-party designs. For instance, the Solid State Music IO-4 serial/parallel board you have in there is not only a better design than MITS' 88-2SIO, but it also includes parallel, and if you want you can even configure it to act just like an 88-2SIO for software compatibility.

  4. #4

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    The IO-4 is a really good "go to" board for early systems. I use it in both of my IMSAI and Altair machines. No software setup required since they use a UAR/T rather than an ACIA. Configure the jumpers and you're good to go. You can use one of the parallel ports for a parallel keyboard (something I've been seeking for a while).

    I would agree with Glitch's comment on what "factory" means versus what people actually did. I'd start with an 8K memory board (or two 4k boards for an earlier feel) and the IO-4. That way BASIC can run with some usable space and is still period-authentic. That's the angle I use when I display my items at VCF -- how would a "typical" user have had it configured.

    I've always liked the CompuPro boards for overall reliability (the "Econoram" boards are the earliest boards), but Solid State Music made a nice board, which I've used. There were many other manufacturers though.

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the advice. Not sure what the plans for it are I suppose. Initial idea was to clean it up and display it at my shop, but looking at this... not sure I can handle such a restoration. Or want to. Sigh.

  6. #6

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    Seems a fantastic find to me. Given its historical significance, I think you should restore it, or at least attempt to restore it. You'll get lots of advice from this forum...

  7. #7

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    Congratulations on the find!

    One of the first things I'd do is to try to read the paper tape over to binary files, and then you might use a modern computer with a serial card (and maybe a current-loop adapter) to load software once you get the boards cleaned up and going.

    I have no personal experience with systems inhabitated with mouse, but many of these boards are well documented and repairable. What I would expect is a few corroded traces or pads which might need repair.

    At last, I would be carefull about scrubbing to heavily. Try to rather use some solvent that is known to work nicely for cleaning electronics.
    Last edited by per; June 19th, 2019 at 04:50 AM.
    Current systems owned by me:
    Vintage:IBM PC/XT submodel 087 ( 1983 ), [Kon]tiki-100 rev. C (1983), Compaq Portable I ( 1984 ), IBM PC/XT submodel 078 ( 1985 ), IBM PC/XT286 ( ~1986 ), 3x Nintendo Entertainement Systems ( 1987 ).
    Obsolete:Commodore A500 ( ~1990 ), IBM PS/2 model 70/386 type 8570-161 ( 1991 ), Atari Lynx II ( ~1992 ), Generic Intel 486SX PC ( ~1993 ), AT/T Globalyst Pentium w/FDIV bug MB ( 1994 ), Compaq 486DX4 laptop ( ~1995 ).

  8. #8

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    Do get the mouse gunk off. The longer it is on the boards, the more the damage.
    Dwight

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Elvey View Post
    Do get the mouse gunk off. The longer it is on the boards, the more the damage.
    Dwight
    Yeah, it's corrosive to circuit board stuff. If it's relatively fresh it just washes off with hot soapy water (DO BLEACH EVERYTHING THOUGH!)

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Elvey View Post
    Do get the mouse gunk off. The longer it is on the boards, the more the damage.
    Dwight
    Looks like that ship has sailed, but one never knows what might be found after a good scrub.

    +1 on the bleach..

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