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MITS Altair 680

See below for specifications and information on this system.

Specifications and information

Introduced: Announced November 1975
Shipped 1976, Month Unknown
Original Price: Altair 680 computer, $293 kit, $420 assembled (kit $345 after 12/31/75)
Altair 680T turnkey model (complete Altair 680 except front panel control board) Kit Only, $240 ($280 after 12/31/75)
Altair 680 CPU board assembled, $275
Option I/O socket kit, $29
Option cooling fan, $16 loose, $26 installed
PROM Kit (256 x 8-bit ultraviolet erasable 1702 devices), $42
CPU: Motorola / AMS 6800, @ 500 kHz clock speed (yes, that's .5 MHz)
Memory: 1024 bytes (1K byte) RAM, sockets for 1024 bytes of ROM
Operating System: N/A
Input/Output: Full front panel
RS232/current loop serial I/O
Bus: None
Other Items in Collection: Schematics
Items Needed: Documentation, any additional ROMs

The diminutive Altair 680 was one of the first three Motorola 6800 computers on the market, along with the SWTPC 6800 and Sphere.

Although the 680 was "pre-announced" on the cover of the November, 1975 issue of Popular Electronics (following the similar introduction of its big brother, the Altair 8800), the headline trumpeting "THE FIRST MOTOROLA 6800 COMPUTER PROJECT" was not the whole truth. Ironically, page 5 of the same magazine carried an ad for the Sphere, a 6800 based computer available in kit form for $860, and page 89 advertised the SWTPC 6800 kit at $450. It's hard to say which computer actually shipped first in quantity.

MITS offered a discount for orders placed before December 31, 1975, but the ads offering the discount featured a picture of the mockup 680 that appeared on the Popular Electronics cover (yes, the 680 was a mockup, just like the 8800 photo on the magazine cover the previous January). Also, the "December 31, 1975" discount ads appeared in Byte magazine as late as February 1976.

The 680 is much smaller than the 8800, measuring only 11" by 11" by 4-3/4". If this particular 680 looks new, that's because it is. It was assembled in 1999 from unused original MITS parts.

See also:

Altair 8800
Altair 8800b Turnkey
IMSAI 8080
Collection Index of S-100 Bus Machines

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