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I > IMSAI  > 8080   


After seeing the instant success of the MITS ALTAIR 8800 computer, the first "home computer" ever made, others soon tried their luck in this new business space. One of the first to do so was Bill Millard who founded IMS Associates.

The computer they designed, the IMSAI 8080, was very similar to the Altair 8800 and was designed to run the same software. However, it was a much better design, with a higher specification power supply, an anodized aluminum chassis, 22 slots on the S-100 bus, and a great front panel design.

The IMSAI 8080 aimed to take advantage of the Altair's popularity, the inability of MITS to meet a growing demand for the product, and the need to improve on some of the internal components. Like the Altair, the IMSAI came either in kit form, or preassembled at the factory.

At the production starting, the IMSAI was shipped deliberately missing many parts in the kit version, because the company hadn't received them yet. But since IMSAI promised delivery by a certain date, they shipped them anyway!

Like the Altair system, there were no keyboard but a front panel and switches used to program the system. The LED's blinked, depending of the values found on the address and data buses. One could manually stop the CPU, single step the CPU, and read and write to memory locations.

In the end, the IMSAI outlasted the Altair by several years. Owners were delighted to see it featured in the 1984 movie "War Games", with Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. Through the years, it has remained a much-beloved design amongst vintage computer collectors, and newly-manufactured parts and documentation are still available! (see Web links)

NAME  8080
TYPE  Home Computer
YEAR  Start of 1976
KEYBOARD  None, front panel switches are used to program the system
CPU  Intel 8080A (rarely 8080)
SPEED  2 MHz (each instruction takes 4 clock cycles)
RAM  256 bytes
ROM  Unknown
TEXT MODES  Depending on the video terminal used (optional 64 x 12 card)
SOUND  No speaker in the case
SIZE / WEIGHT  Unknown
I/O PORTS  I/O port
OS  Unknown
POWER SUPPLY  Buit-in power supply unit
PERIPHERALS  S-100 cards
PRICE  $439 kit, $621 assembled (1976) - $599 kit, $931 assembled (1977)

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