last updated September 5th, 2003 and is permanently morphing...
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-târ´, àl´tìr´, -târ´) noun
A very bright, variable, double star in the constellation Aquila, approximately 15.7 light-years from Earth.
[Arabic an-nasr at-tâ'ir : an-nasr, the eagle (al, the + nasr, eagle) + at-tâ'ir (al, the + tâ'ir, flying).]
the first popular home computer kit.
Ed Roberts's company MITS introduces the Altair kit from its New Mexico headquarters. Two thousand people send in their money for the $400 kit.
Altair 8800 (al`târ
A small computer introduced in 1975 by Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems of New Mexico and sold primarily in kit form. The Altair was based on the 8-bit Intel 8080 microprocessor, had 256 bytes of random access memory, received input through a bank of switches on the front panel, and displayed output via a row of light-emitting diodes. Although it was short-lived, the Altair is considered the first successful personal computer, which were then called home computers.
In 1977, Roberts sold MITS to Pertec Computer. Pertec made Altairs for the following year, but within two years, all elements of MITS were gone from Pertec. Harvard undergrads Gates and Allen develop the first programming language for the new computer, a version of the public-domain language Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC). They form another company, Micro-Soft, to license the language to Altair's management and set up shop near MITS in Albuquerque.