Retroscan – The Small Wonder Of The Micro-World

MITS Altair 680

Measuring just 11″ wide x 11″ deep x 5″ high, and weighing a mere 7 pounds, the Altair 680b is a complete, general-purpose computer. The secret to this revolutionary, small computer is its CPU board. This double-sided board fits along the bottom of the Altair case and plugs directly into the front panel board. It contains the new 6800 microprocessor, 1,024 bytes of RAM memory, a 256 byte PROM monitor, provisions for 768 bytes of additional PROM or ROM, and a single Interface port with a Motorola ACIA serial interface adapter which can be configured either RS-232 or TTY.  A five level Baudot interface option is also available.

The Altair 680b can be programmed from front panel switches, or it can be interfaced to a video display terminal, or teletype-writer. Three additional circuit boards can be plugged inside the Altair 680b for further memory and interface expansion. The first of these boards is a 16K static RAM memory board.

Software already developed includes Altair 680 BASIC with all the features of the 8K BASIC previously developed for the Altair 8800. These include Boolean operators, the ability to read or write a byte from any I/O port or memory location, multiple statements per line, and the ability to interrupt program execution and then continue after the examination of variable values. This software takes only 6.8K bytes of memory space and a copy is included free with the purchase of the Altair 680 16K memory board.

Other software includes a resident two pass assembler. The Altair 680b is also compatible with Motorola 6800 software. The Altair 680b is ideal for hobbyists who want a powerful computer system at an economic price. Altair 680b owners qualify for membership in the Altair Users Croup, and like other Altair owners, they receive a complimentary subscription to Computer Notes and complete factory support.

Altair 68Ob kit with complete, easy-to-understand assembly manual, operator’s manual, and programming manual – $466
Assembled Altair 680b – $625
Altair 68Ob Turnkey model kit – $395
Expander Card 680MB (required to expand 68O) – $  24
Altair 68OBSM 16K static RAM board kit with 680 BASlC – $685
Altair 680 BASIC when purchased separately – $200
Baudot  option – $  42

From Byte Magazine Issue No. 14 October 1976

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