4

We know that computer is used for many things, to control many things, to do many jobs, as server, to control airplane traffic, and many things a computer can do. But I am curious about the MITS Altair 8800. As I read in many news or articles, that "computer" always said used by hobbyists. I have never read any article saying that that kind of computer used for special purpose, neither by a hobbyist nor by a company.

Imagine that one of the hobbyist used that Altair 8800 to do simple calculation such as "+, -, x, /", to control his/her room temperature, used for timer to turn on/off light at home, to water circulation of an aquarium, and so on. Then, what was the "biggest" or the greatest task ever performed by MITS Altair 8800?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Raffzahn, alephzero, scruss, Wilson, wizzwizz4 Mar 24 at 18:47

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    Unless we have a better definition of "greatest" this question is answerable. – wizzwizz4 Mar 24 at 21:39
  • Does "greatest" mean "highest $ value of stuff connected"? Or "most newsworthy"? Or "part of most well known organization"? Just an arbitrary "cool stuff" list would be fun but impossible to "answer". – manassehkatz Mar 25 at 0:29
  • Hi Guys, you should not spend your time asking something trivial. You can easily distinct between a computer used to control home light and a computer to control traffic of an airport plane. Sometime is not easy to write it, that's why gave some example. All businessmen should not put a thing which is not robust to control such an expensive thing. Because of an expensive, than we call it "biggest" or "greatest". But, still I put it in quote as I realized that it is not easy to define. But let just use our common sense. – AirCraft Lover Mar 25 at 2:57
  • 1
    This is what you needed for Air Traffic Control youtube.com/watch?v=e9ih93tuH1k – David Marshall Mar 26 at 0:12
  • Guy I knew in college ran a program on his Altair... When you held a cheap AM radio close enough to the computer, the EMI picked up by the radio sounded like a buzzy, nasty version of a recognizable tune. So, Um, how about "music player?" – Solomon Slow Mar 26 at 19:25
3

The Altair is the first of a category of machines that gave rise to CP/M — you'd need to add more RAM, a disk drive, a serial port and a terminal but adding to the box was standard usage; the Altair is the originator of the S-100 bus.

With CP/M you have word processors like WordStar, spreadsheets like Super Calc, databases like dBase, programming environments like Turbo Pascal and more.

So an Altair may eventually have been used for mostly the same productivity tasks as MS-DOS.

  • Many definitely were used as cpm machines for office automation. I think OP is looking for "factory control" or "stage lights control" or "rocket launcher" or "TV title production" etc. – manassehkatz Mar 24 at 19:35
  • Rocket launcher? The Altair may not have accomplished much, but one of its IMSAI clones armed with an acoustic coupler modem almost lead to the launching of a lot of rockets. Er, well, okay, that was a movie. But there's reason to believe it may have resulted in policy changes in real life. – Chris Stratton Mar 25 at 19:35

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.