Altair 8800 name Was: Re: Altair 680 Expansion Boards?

Peter Corlett abuse at
Fri Dec 23 04:59:10 CST 2016

On Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 08:01:46PM -0600, drlegendre . wrote:
> "The Z80 had more players and more names than all the rest"

> And yet it was essentially a bit-player in the days of the 'home computer'
> revolution - at least in the US. CBM, Apple, Atari - the three big names in
> home computers, all went with the 6502 family. And perhaps even more
> importantly, so did Nintendo, in the NES. The main use of Z80 in US home
> computing was in the absurdly small Timex / Sinclair ZX80 series - with their
> awful cramped membrane keyboards and seriously limited sound & video.

The "at least in the US" caveat is important :)

Sinclair's Z80-based ZX Spectrum was outrageously successful in the UK. Every
teenage bedroom seemed to have one by the late 1980s. The various 6502-based
machines from Acorn and Commodore were relatively uncommon, and I've seen
exactly one Apple II.

People who know Uncle Clive's unwillingness to spend a penny more than he has
to on bulding computers may wonder why they selected the relatively expensive
Z80 over the 6502, but it was because they managed to trick the Z80's
address-fetcting and instruction decoding cycle into generating video on the
ZX80 and ZX81, and thus saved more money elsewhere. It wasn't until the
Spectrum that they bothered with DMA like proper computers, and then didn't
*need* to stick with the Z80, but chose to keep it anyway.

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