JamesD Posted July 29, 2010 Share Posted July 29, 2010 Fundamentally, I think that's the only area where our general opinions differ. You seem to see the SOL as nothing more than an improved clone of the Altair, similar to the IMSAI, only a bit more kitted out. I see it as taking what became the S-100 bus "standard" - thanks to the IMSAI's cloning of the Altair's core architecture kicking the idea off - and creating the first recognizable mass produced, complete system for sale. In my opinion, the SOL-20 was tweaked enough from the original Altair vision to truly be considered its own system/platform. My argument in the latter part of this thread is that - as far as I've been able to determine - the only way to get a complete Altair or IMSAI (either through the addition of a terminal or combination of add-on cards and the necessary add-ons like display, keyboard, and storage) was through individual dealer whim. In other words, there was no standard factory configuration available from either MITS or IMS equivalent to what became available from Processor Technology Corporation by no later than early 1977. That to me is the important distinction for my purposes. So, as for important milestones in mainstream personal computing systems, I'd go with, for instance, the introduction of the Altair 8800 in 1975, which was notable for being the first relatively low cost and readily available personal computer intended for hobbyist use; the introduction of the IMSAI 8080 towards the end of 1975, which was the first clone of another system and helped to firmly establish the S-100 bus as an industry standard; the introduction of the SOL-20 in late 1976/early 1977, which was the first mass produced complete system available for wide sale; and the June 1977 release of the Apple II, which was the first mass produced complete system available for wide sale with BASIC in ROM. videogame console (APF M-1000) with a full computer add-on. Here is where we differ on the SOL. Manufactures released reliable cassette interfaces which provided cheap/fast mass storage devices. Companies released PROM boards with a monitor in EPROM that let the machine boot and load software without needing to manually enter the bootstrap code. Processor technologies released a CRT/keyboard interface that built the terminal features onto an S100 board. These boards moved the machines from being mainframe lookalikes to being stand alone systems, made them easier to use, and cut the cost of machines almost in half (no terminal, no paper tape). I see those as evolutionary steps and the SOL as integrating those features. To me, the only advancements it offered were integration and packaging. Lower prices and easier to build systems were offshoots of those advancements for sure but I don't see it as a revolution that somehow makes it worthy of a special distinction that does not apply to the other machines unless you are just talking about packaging. You see the SOL as a revolution for all that and anything before it doesn't count because not all machines had those features. Clearly, the video shows that systems with the same features did exist before the SOL, and if we were to follow your logic with PCs, the first PCs that included all the I/O boards on the motherboard would be a revolution and the older PCs don't count because not all machines have the same features built in. It makes no sense at all. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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