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M > MITS  > Altair 8800b   

Altair 8800b

The Altair 8800b - second and last of the 8800 series - was an improved version of the 8800 model of which it corrected some drawbacks.

Externally, the case had a more professional design, with a smarter back-lit front panel including modified toggle switches and five new functions allowing to read/write/Modify CPU accumulator.

Internally, motherboard could support up to 18 S-100 connectors. It was powered by a stronger power supply unit (8V - 18 amp.). The CPU board was also modified: new 8080A processor and Intel chip sets. However the 8800b remained compatible with all Altair 8800 hardware and software. Unlike the 8800, basic version also had a serial interface for Teletype, video terminal or printer connexion.

System had no bootstrap ROM. User had thus to enter a boot program using panel switches each time the system was switched on. However, every 8800 owners quikly bought or built additional card to expand RAM and ROM memory and connect external peripherals.


Mike Boyd remembers:
The front panel had its own 1702 rom to run the "micro-code" for the functions; one time I had a customer bring his to the shop after he built it and it didn't work; seems Altair gave him the rom for the 6800 box instead.

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NAME  Altair 8800b
TYPE  Professional Computer
YEAR  March 1976
KEYBOARD  Depends on the terminal used
CPU  Intel 8080A
CO-PROCESSOR  Intel 8224 clock generator and 8216 bus driver
ROM  No ROM in basic version
TEXT MODES  No video display
SIZE / WEIGHT  Unknown
I/O PORTS  Serial port
BUILT IN MEDIA  No mass storage
OS  Hexadecimal or octal program entry panel
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in power supply unit
PERIPHERALS  Lots of S-100 expansion cards from many manufacturers
PRICE  From $1,00 to $1,250 (6 to 18 S-100 connectors)

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