Altair 8800 and the dawn of a revolution

The Changelog

We partnered with Red Hat to promote Season 4 of Command Line Heroes — a podcast about the people who transform technology from the command line up. Season 4 is all about hardware that changed the game. We’re featuring episode 3 from season 4 — called “Personal Computers: The Altair 8800 and the Dawn of a Revolution.” This is the story of personal computers and the revolution that took place in the PC era. Learn more and subscribe at redhat.com/commandlineheroes.

We partnered with Red Hat to promote Season 4 of Command Line Heroes — a podcast about the people who transform technology from the command line up. Season 4 is all about hardware that changed the game. We’re featuring episode 3 from season 4 — called “Personal Computers: The Altair 8800 and the Dawn of a Revolution.” This is the story of personal computers and the revolution that took place in the PC era.

Learn more and subscribe at redhat.com/commandlineheroes.

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The Altair 8800 is why we have computers in most homes today. It was initially designed for hobbyists. But a few visionaries saw massive potential in this strange little machine—and worked hard to make others see it too. What they created led to so much more than anyone could have ever imagined.

Forrest Mims tells us how his co-founder, Ed Roberts, planned to save their struggling electronics company. His idea? A microcomputer made for hobbyists. That computer led to a fateful phone call from Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Dan Sokol and Lee Felsenstein recall the unveiling of the Altair 8800 at the Homebrew Computer Club, and how it sparked Steve Wozniak’s eureka moment for the Apple I. We then hear from John Markoff about an infamous software heist that set the stage for the debate about whether code should be proprietary. And finally, Limor Fried reflects on how this story continues to influence today’s open source hardware movement.

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