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MITS Altair on the Cover of Popular Mechanics, 1975

But that begs the question of what people will buy. Moore's Law first caused multimillion-dollar mainframes to go up in power, but it also allowed the invention of the $100,000 DEC minicomputers that went up in power. And that first Intel 4004 chip allowed the invention of this: the MITS Altair, which like my EEE PC also cost $400, for the kit. The 1975 Popular Mechanics issue that featured it is so famous, this image was easy to find on the Net. Mind you, the Altair couldn't do much of any use, and only fanatic hobbyists bought it. Like the OLPC, however, the fanaticism of those buyers - one lived in MITS parking lot for two weeks waiting for his to come off the 3-man assembly line - created a new market category promptly filled by the Apple I and Radio Shack's TRS series.

© Roy Brander, P.Eng 2007