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Thread: Altair 8800 - gosh they are expensive....

  1. #1
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    Default Altair 8800 - gosh they are expensive....

    Too rich for my blood (with shipping to the UK) - seems more than $3000 is needed for a basic setup now.....

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1975-MITS...-/264576692344

  2. #2

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    There is always Mike's Altair 8800c:

    https://deramp.com/altair_8800c.html

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by alank2 View Post
    There is always Mike's Altair 8800c:

    https://deramp.com/altair_8800c.html
    Indeed! I second that idea. That is exactly what I did back in the Spring of 2019.

    smp

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    Yes looking like I'll go that route - there is another on Ebay at the moment but I can't see that going for any less.

  5. #5
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    There are still deals to be had if you don't need a rev 0 unit in good condition. Mike's 8800C is a *very* good option if you want a relatively trouble-free functional equivalent and don't have to have an original. If you are stuck on having a vintage machine, just keep watching for auction-style listings or put in best offers on stuff that has been up forever. To get something at a low-for-Altair price, you're going to be buying something in known-broken or at least untested condition, and you'll have to either have or build the knowledge required to fix it.

    If you're planning on actually using a vintage Altair, and you have no S-100 experience at all, it's always my recommendation to start with a (non-MITS) turnkey system and get that going first. They're much cheaper, more reliable, often easier to repair, and you can probably use it to fix up a later Altair acquisition. A lot of folks seem to get it in their heads that they definitely *have* to have an Altair, buy something in unknown condition (or from a seller who can't properly test), and then end up with a non-working machine that just sits. I guess that's fine if you just want it on the shelf and that's it. A lot of those folks end up sending their machine to me or someone else that does S-100 repair, and if the machine is a mess, you end up spending as much on repairs (even at a hobbyist rate) as it'd have cost to just buy a fixed-up machine to start with!

  6. #6

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    About a year ago, I fixed a machine for a friend. It was said to have been running once. We replaced an IC on the front panel, 3 shorts on the mother board and of course several broken wires from the front panel to the CPU. The power supply was OK. MITS used a lot of cheap parts. Many machines I've seen had bad diodes in them.
    I somehow don't think it ever ran. Unless shown working, treat them all as needing some tender care.
    Dwight

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Elvey View Post
    I somehow don't think it ever ran. Unless shown working, treat them all as needing some tender care.
    For sure, and even then, make sure it's been demonstrated running MITS BASIC or something. A lot of subtle faults can still exist while letting the machine run trivial toggle-in programs.

  8. #8
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    Was looking at this thread from earlier last year:

    http://www.vcfed.org/forum/showthrea...ighlight=8800c

    It's not getting any less expensive to buy the 8800c at around 1500 and obviously quite a bit of time to build it all.

    I just spotted one of Mikes 8800 clone machines that had also been fitted with a PC mainboard and PSU on Ebay so took an impulse purchase plunge on it to get me going.

  9. #9
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    When I made my Altair 8800c, I used my Altair Clone case to start off (That became a very expensive case!).
    I have all the insides of that Altair Clone sitting around doing nothing. Would you be interested in buying it for say $100 plus shipping?
    I haven't the slightest idea what the shipping would cost.
    Then, all you would need to do is purchase the Altair Clone case from Deramp, and you's have a lower cost Altair Clone.

    smp

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Elvey View Post
    About a year ago, I fixed a machine for a friend. It was said to have been running once. We replaced an IC on the front panel, 3 shorts on the mother board and of course several broken wires from the front panel to the CPU. The power supply was OK. MITS used a lot of cheap parts. Many machines I've seen had bad diodes in them.
    I somehow don't think it ever ran. Unless shown working, treat them all as needing some tender care.
    Dwight
    They don't make 'em like they used to - because they weren't very good then!

    The way I recall that era, in 73-74 there were actually shortages of well...everything, besides oil, and by '75 we were digging out of that. Often, chips were in short supply. Many hobby suppliers in California were suspected of selling "floor sweepings" - chips that were sorta, mostly in spec. but functional. Some of those chips may have come from "the midnight shift". Combine that with the fact that chips of any kind are much more reliable than they once were (remarkable, when you think of the die and feature sizes of 1970's chips vs today) and the results are not surprising.

    I assembled some boards for a local computer store back then; it was not unusual to have a Processor Tech, etc. board have 1-2 chips out of a 30 chip board to be bad right out of the box or soon thereafter.

    Some companies had pretty good controls on their supply chain; I have restored two HP 9810's with chips date coded 1969-71, most in plastic, and out of those 150+ chip machines, one and two chips went bad respectively.

    I can remember articles in the 70's stating that moisture migration would kill all plastic-encapsulated TTL chips in 30-40 years (which is one of the reasons that all mil-spec chips were in brazed/ceramic). I haven't seen that happen.

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