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The machine depicted on the cover of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine sounded impressive—"World's First Minicomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models"—and at a price of $397 for the parts, it seemed like quite a bargain. In truth, the Altair 8800 was not a minicomputer, a term normally reserved for machines many times as powerful. Nor was it easy to use. Programming had to be done by adjusting toggle switches, the memory held a meager 256 bytes of data, and output took the form of patterns of flashing lights.


     1 - Binary Computer
     2 - EDVAC
     3 - UNIVAC
     4 - Applications
     5 - Personal Computers
     Essay - William H. Gates III

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