Computer Museum news about computers, microcomputers, hobbyist, robotics, computing, museums, Bugbooks, Computers at Bugbook Historical Computer Museum, Floyd VA - the history makers present and historical.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Altair 8800 Computer for sale


Bugbooks
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MITS ALTAIR 8800 computer for  Sale. This computer has been restored to working order by Win Heagy. Win has been a vintage computer collector for years and has restored many old computers including an original Digital Equipment PDP-8 minicomputer (PDP-8 work is still in progress). The ALTAIR 8800 is in nice condition and displays very nicely. I have posted many photo's below to show various aspects of the computer and the documentation that comes with the 8800. It is nice to have this computer operational and ready for a new home after resting in our museum warehouse for more then 25 years.

The computer serial number is 220414K and I believe the numbering started at 220000 --- that would make this number 414 in order of production. The K at the end of the serial number indicates that the computer was sold as a kit and it was up to the purchaser to assemble and test the product. The low serial number would put the computer in the first month or two of production by Ed Roberts "MITS" company --- a nice early ALTAIR 8800 computer.

Video of computer in various modes of operation "CLICK".

The computer is priced at $5,467.89 - this includes Fed Ex shipping to the lower 48 states.
Contact me here for purchase or more information.

An ALTAIR 8800 sold today on Ebay for $9001 and a few weeks ago one sold for about $10,000. If mine does not sell soon I will remove it for sale and put it on Ebay. 4-12-15 - Checking the Ebay sale -- it did not make the reserve price so hi bid was $9001 but no sale.

Click on photo's to enlarge
David Larsen KK4WW Computer
Altair 8800







David Larsen KK4WW Computer
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David Larsen KK4WW Computer
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David Larsen KK4WW Computer
Altair 8800


This card  has a serial # on the card of 0456K.






David Larsen KK4WW Computer
Altair 8800










David Larsen KK4WW Computer
Altair 8800

This card has a serial number of 0457K.







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David Larsen KK4WW Computer
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David Larsen KK4WW Computer
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David Larsen KK4WW Computer
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David Larsen KK4WW Computer
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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Win Heagy and his PDP-8 computer 

Here is Win Heagy picking up his PDP-8 at our computer warehouse.


More info about Win's PDP-8 "CLICK"





Here are some comments about the ALTAIR 8800 computer by Win Heagy.

1. Runs warm with the cover on.  If you plan to use it for extended
periods of time, consider installing a fan.
2. Some small dings and marks on the exterior, as is to be expected in
a 35+ year old machine.
3. In order to modify the original hardware as little as possible, an
extension cable was made for the original 2SIO serial cable.  A large
piece of white heat shrink tubing covers the DB25 connectors of this
extension cable and the original cable.  This extension can be removed
or reworked as desired.
4. The 4K RAM card was used for loading 4K BASIC in the video.
5. The MITS 1K Static RAM card was not extensively tested.  The RAM
test routine I have did not seem to work properly on this card.
However, as is seen in the video, I toggled in the “Kill the Bit”
program from the front panel using this card as the RAM card and it
works.  The RAM chips are soldered on this board.
6. Most of the documentation included with the system is not original.
Most of the manuals and other documentation is available online.
7. The 2SIO card is picky.  Be sure to use a good quality USB->Serial
adapter - or a real serial port on a PC.  The 2SIO expects serial
level voltages and some adapters cheat a little.  I had four different
adapters and only one worked.
8. A second serial cable/connector is included for the second port on
the 2SIO card.  This cable and port was not tested.



Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
I am selling this and other duplicate computers from the collection to help pay the rent in the commercial rented space used by our museum. We try to have the museum open regular hours and have paid help as assistant curators in the museum. We live in a very rural area of the Blue Ridge mountains and not many retro computer folks to volunteer in the museum. Our little town of Floyd, Virginia only has a population of about 400. The county population is small and we are in a beautiful place with 42 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway as our Eastern boundary. The county is agriculture based and is known for it wonderful mountain music and many very creative artisans. 

           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Virginia Tech College of Business uses Computer Museum for photo session


Bugbooks
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Monday was a good day at the museum including the museum being used as a background for pictures in the Spring 2015  Virginia Tech College of  Business Magazine - a story about technology history. Professor Terry Rakes was the subject in the photos and University Photographer Logan Wallace did all the photography.  The session lasted 2 hours and I had a great time telling the history of many of the computers on display. It was also fun reminiscing about my 31 years as a faculty member at Virginia Tech (VT) with both Terry and Logan.  Terry started as a student in 1967 the same year I started my teaching career at VT. Terry ended up with 3 degrees from VT and is still there as a professor in the College of business.

Click on photo to enlarge
Computer museum
Dr. Terry R. Rakes
Dr. Terry R. Rakes, Professor of Business & Director Center for Business Intelligence & Analytic's, Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. Terry was very interested in  the historical microcomputers and told many stories about how he used various computers during his 48 years starting with the 1977 Radio Shack TRS-80, Commodores and various Apples. Professor Rakes has had a very distinguished career in Information Technology - Take a look here "CLICK" 



david Larsen KK4WW
Logan Wallace, University Photographer
Logan Wallace, Senior University Photographer at Virginia Tech did the photo session.   It was very interesting to see how a professional photographer produces excellent photos. We had some good discussions during the visit about the museum, technology, old computers and music.

Logan has been a professional photographer for 15 years - Take a look here "CLICK" and see some of her work here "CLICK".



computer museum KK4WW N4USA
Logan Wallace & Dr. Terry Rakes at  Apple-1

Logan and Terry discussing how they can use the Apple-1 display in some of their photographs. We had a lot of discussion about the Apple-1 and Steve Wozniak who designed this computer while working at the Hewlett Packard (HP).  HP gave all the rights to Wozniak and he along with Steve Jobs went on to start what is now the largest company in the world - Apple Inc.




virginia Tech, KK4WW, N4USA
Logan Wallace , University Photographer


Logan took several hundred photos. This one is Dr. Rakes holding a Radio Shack Micro Color Computer (early 80's vintage)







Short video of Logan in action at the museum "CLICK"



Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Logan Wallace, University Photographer



Logan was a good director and I am sure she ended up with exactly the photos needed for the College of Business Magazine.






Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Logan Wallace, at Amateur Radio Station N4USA

Logan was very curious about our amateur radio station in the museum N4USA.
She is also a Bluegrass fan and this developed into and interest in the 5th Annual Bluegrass Festival at our Chantilly Farm on Memorial Day weekend.





Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
Days like this really make my work with the museum interesting. We are getting many special visitors at the museum and of course most patrons are just interested in the displays and history of these old microcomputers. I am much better but still not up to full strenght - this flu has been with me for more then 5 weeks now. 
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Computer Museum Visitors - love the retro game stations

Bugbooks
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Sorry I have not written a post in the last several weeks . My wife and I got the flu bug about the time we returned from our mission trip to Dominica and it has really shut down our energy and ability to do hardly anything.  We are feeling better now but still very low on energy. I have not felt like this for years - in fact we always comment on how we hardly ever get sick - but this was different. Sure hope you don't get this - some of our friends have been effected for 4 to 5 weeks.

Had a great day at the museum with friend and museum donor Nathaniel Frissell.  Nathaniel brought three of his graduate student associates from Virginia Tech. I always enjoy telling the history about various computers in the museum and 2 computers really caught there interest.

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David larsen KK4WW N4USA
Autonetics REcomp computer 
The first one to stop them in there tracks for more information was this Autonetics Recomp 501 computer. More information here "CLICK"
This model is reported to be the first commercial transistor computer - 1958- and we have  serial number 003 and we may have the oldest commercial built transistor computer in the world.


bugbook historical micrcomputer museum
Datapoint 2200 programmable terminal 1971
The second stop for the group was the 1971 Datapoint 2200 programmable terminal. The story of this  terminal built around an 8 bit computer is a fascinating and many retro computer people do not know this important history --- This was the  origin  of the first 8 bit microcomputer - The Intel 8008 in 1972.

This story is well told in Lamont Woods book about Datapont. Read more here "CLICK"
I will be posting more about this fascinating and important story in future blogs.


bugbook historical micrcomputer museum
Bugbook and Blacksburg book display 


Hunter Burch (L) and myself by the Bugbook and Blacksburg series of books that I and several others produced in the 70's and early 80's. Hunter has a friend back home in Alburn Ga that has some of the books and asked Hunter to be sure to talk to me about the books.






david Larsen KK4WW N4usa
Nathaniel Frissell & reto game stations

Nathaniel Frissell is proud of this photo. He should be as he made a large donation of Commodore and  other computers to our museum. All three of the operational retro game stations we have in the museum are made from his donated computers.
The game stations are a real popular and everyone loves playing these computer games that are 25 to 30 years old.





bugbook historical micrcomputer museum
Visitors from Virginia Tech 

Here is Nathaniel and his friends from Virginia Tech in front of our Apple-l display.
L-R Brian Dowd - assistant museum curator, Nathaniel Frissell, Deirdre Beggs, Hunter Burch, Andrew Kinlz.  Brian is a student at Floyd High School and Nathaniel and his friend are all students at Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech(VT) brings back many fond memories of my 31 years as a faculty member their teaching "Instrumentation and automation".



Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
The  museum visitors from Virginia Tech were a real pleasure. Nathaniel donated a large group of Commodore computers last year and they were used to set up our retro gaming stations. He was very happy to see them in use and tell his friends about them. I am happy to greet all visitors however it is special when they are from Virginia Tech where I spent 31 years of my professional career.
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Acoustic Telephone Modem for Radio Shacks first computer 1977

To enlarge "CLICK" on photo
Computer museum
Radio Shack Modem 26-1171
I spotted this 'original still in the box'  first Radio Shack Acoustic Modem while browsing in my computer museum warehouse last week. Not a unique item but worth a little discussion.

Modems were developed to fill the need to connect a printing device to the telephone line. Devices with functions like modems were in use as early as the 1920's however the mass production of modems started in the 1950's. SAGE air-defense systems in 1958 used modems and the word modem to connect there large computers together in a network using telephone lines.

These early modems worked at slow speeds of 110 to 300 bits per second or as computer folks would say "baud" and not "bits per second".  These early modems had a very simple function of converting the tones that could be sent over telephone circuits into digital "One's (1) & Zero's (0).  This allowed two way digital communications over wires for very long distances.

Modems performance did not improve much until the microprocessor was embedded into the circuitry in the late 1970's.  Telephone modems were used by personal computer users & others until the World Wide Web or Internet became common use in the mid to late 1990's. With the use of embedded microprocessors the smart modem speed of data transmission over telephone circuits increased up to 14.4 Kilobits per second. Almost no one uses this type of telephone modems now except for Telephone/FAX machines.  FAX machines are dying out fast with the sending of text document over the Internet.

FAX machines may be in use for a long time as they have a different level of privacy then the Internet - not really private but also not as searchable as the Internet.

The word modem is still in use as a common device used to connect the Internet, DSL or other high speed data  links to computers and other digital devices.
To enlarge "CLICK" on photo
Computer Museum
Radio Shack Modem 26-1171



This Radio Shack Modem has never been out of the box until now - 37 years after it was sold.






computer Modem
Radio Shack Modem 26-1171
This Radio Shack Modem is acoustic coupled to the telephone line and no electrical connection were made direct to the phone line.  The Acoustic coupling was not real efficent because of the extra telephone microphone and telephone ear receiver being coupled to the modem over and air link. The next photo shows this link.
The art deco telephone was also in the museum warehouse - The green color could not have been very popular however I will sure keep as cool example of the old rotary dial up telephone.



computer museum
Radio Shack Modem 26-1171
Here you see how the telephone was placed into the rubber coupling of the receiver and transmitter on the modem - no electrical connection.  ATT had a monopoly and some government regulations did not permit direct connecting to the telephone line.

Of course many users ignored the regulation and made direct connections for a more efficient data transfer.


I expect Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs often made direct connection to the telephone line for some of their Blue Box calling to avoid paying the long distance tolls in the early 1970's.. The Steve's has a good little business selling their Blue Box's for short period of time.


Computer museum
Radio Shack Modem 26-1171 Manual 


The Manual was included in the box with modem and had a good description of the device and how it worked along with a schematic diagram.

Modem Manual Full Copy







TRS -80 Radio Shack Model 1 Computer
This Modem is most likely not made by Radio Shack but a private labeling of a general purpose Modem for the TRS- 80 Model 1 computer - the first Radio Shack computer - 1977.

 All the information you would want about Radio Shack from 1939 to 2011

Video of TRS 80 Model 1 advertisement 

Post update 3-17-15-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This post created a lot of interesting comments and email for me - These brought back  memories for me as I indicated I used the TRS - 80 model 1 for  number of years. Here is a typical email from 

Mark Andrews
"I remember these well. The local RS had one on display with the TRS Model I. I wrote, debugged and ran my first program on that computer in 1977 at the ripe old age of 14. I coded it on pape first, then rode my bike to the store and typed it in. Several debugging cycles later (and about 2 hours) I got it to run. The manager liked the fact that I was there. Shoppers would come in and he would say "Look! It's so easy that a kid can use it!". "
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While in the warehouse finding the Radio Shack Modem I came across these switches -they have been out of sight &  stored for 20 or 30 years.

Looks like the same switch used on the IMSAI 8080 computer and perhaps a few others. If any of you retro computer folks need one please contact me.


computer museum kk4ww
Computer front panel switch 


computer museum
Computer front panel switch



Mostly red and a few black switches about 150 or so.







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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
It is always fun to look thought the computer museum warehouse. I have more then 10,000 items on the museum data base "Past Perfect". This is not fully complete so their are probably twice this many total items and having been collecting for over 40 years I sure don't remember just what is in the warehouse. 
           ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian