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

Liam Proven lproven at
Fri Dec 23 09:16:53 CST 2016

On 23 December 2016 at 10:59, Peter Corlett <abuse at> wrote:
> 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.

Pretty much, yes. The VIC-20 did OK, and the C-64 later, as the price
came down. However, back then, around '81-'82-'83, a working Spectrum
setup cost about a quarter of what a C-64 cost. It was the premium
games machine for the children of fairly rich folks.

The BBC Micro, at another quarter or third over the price of a C-64
but with a superb BASIC instead of CBM's abomination, was what the
unfortunate children of very serious, very wealthy people bought. Not
nearly so many games and not very good.

Whereas the Apple ][ cost more than 2 BBC Micros -- as much as a small
car. And it wasn't all that good anyway, because by then, it was a 5YO
design. So only misguided millionaires owned them.

Some unlucky kids got the Oric-1, a not-common but not-all-that-bad
6502 machine, around '83 or '84.

The US world was profoundly different from, well, the rest of the
planet. As usual. Americans got amazing-sounding fancy machines that
cost from as much as a car to as much as a house, with stuff like
*expansion slots* and *professional OSes* that could run business
software that [a] cost as much for a single copy as a well-specified
complete Sinclair setup with monitor and disk interface and drives,
and [b] was utterly uninteresting to schoolkids.

Cheap British computer: £100.

Cheap American computer: $1000.

Even though back then £1=$2 or something, still, the American kit was
all ludicrously expensive and as rare as rocking-horse droppings
outside North America.

Liam Proven • Profile:
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