I was a child of 9 years old when the Altair 8800 was announced on the pages of Popular Electronics magazine in January of 1975. It captured my imagination - and I knew that someday I would build and own my own computer. I never did get an Altair 8800 - the computer revolution was started and it moved FAST. The heyday of the Altair lasted only a short while. The first computer I built was 6 years later when I built the Sinclair ZX81 kit.
Well imagine my surprise 42 years later when David Hansel of Brookline, MA published his Ardunio-based Altair 8800 emulator project on hackster.io! I knew this was my chance to finally build an Altair 8800! Sure, there are other Altair 8800 clones out there, but all seemed out of reach for a simple working-man hobbyist. There's Mike Douglas's excellent altairclone.com which is a dead-ringer look-alike for the Altair 8800, also Mike's 8800c which is an Altair with S100 bus built from new components, then there's the very ambitious altairkit.com in which Grant Stockly painstakingly recreated every board and component of an original Altair.
Once I saw David's code and design, I knew I could improve on it and make an affordable, easy-to-build kit. My first "beta-testers" were my 12 and 14 year old sons. Yes, you can still follow David's original plan if you wish. If you want a ready-to-go kit, look no further.
This is a cycle-accurate recreation of the original Altair 8800. What does that mean? It means the Intel 8080 CPU is emulated, as is some of the basic I/O (disk drives, serial ports, etc.) but everything else is REAL Altair machine code and CP/M that was created more than 40 years ago.
Original Altair 8800
Dimensions: 17" x 7" x 18"
Weight: depends on cards loaded, but generally around 65 lbs.
RAM: 64KB maximum
Altair-Duino (Pro version)
Dimensions: 15" x 6" x 6"
Weight: 3 lbs with acrylic case.
RAM: 512KB (64KB maximum for Altair emulation, the rest used as storage for Altair programs and utilities.)
I also have to say "thank you" to Oscar Vermeulen of Obsolescence Guaranteed for his recreation of the PDP-8, which got me on this quest to recreate historic computers.