Monday, 12 December 2016

December BBQ + Event

Last Friday we held our last meeting for the year!  Photos are available on our Facebook page + Epsilon has written a nice comprehensive blog post covering the event which also includes additional pics.  Please see here: Epsilon's Blog Post

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

December BBQ + Meeting

Next month we are holding an outdoor BBQ in the gardens of the Eastwood Community Centre.  A meeting as usual will follow this.  Please see out page "Next Meeting" for full details.

Alexis Kotlowy has kindly accepted our request to present on one of his many homebrew computing projects.

Below is the computer that Alexis has developed and will demonstrate next month:

See you there,

Monday, 21 November 2016

November - It's an Atari Night!

Atari was the focus this month along with the usual "bring any system along" as we acknowledge there are others who do not own Atari's.

I will just mention that there is a fascinating movie on Netflix called "Atari: Game over."  It features the excavation of an old rubbish tip where it was rumoured for many years to contain the haul of Atari's ET cartridges.  ET, a video game based on the movie, did not perform as well and Atari was rumoured to have physically dumped the cartridges.  Please watch the film for all these details as I am not going to go through them further.

Back to the night of the meeting we were experiencing heavy rain fall with hail stones as large as ping-pong balls.  Quite unusual for this period where our weather has been fairly warm.  Sue and another person from the Community Centre was busy cleaning the conference room prior to our meeting as it had experienced a small degree of flooding.  Luckily from inspection after, the water had only dampened the carpet.

As always we begin at 7:30pm (or 7pm if people come to set-up their systems).  I acknowledge Epsilon here for these photographs.

As seen below, we had Atari's Galore!

What?! A boing-ball on an Atari.  This demo certainly had a reaction both on the night and recently on our social-media page.  I was told that originally this demo was developed on the Atari and later ported to the Amiga 1000 as one of the original demo videos to see advertised on this system back in the day.

Ryan holding a Module from his Atari 800:

Lots of family fun gear here brought in by Paul.  Nice to see the original boxes!  Some real great art-work here if this tickles your fancy.  Video game collectors usually go mad over this stuff.

Ryan is currently restoring this machine to full functionality and was greatly assisted by Alexis on the night who along with Aron looked at the Schematics online and appropriately advised Ryan on which power-supply he can use (original power-supplies are not always available!).

Another demo.

A new person to join us enjoying a classic game of Donkey-Kong below:

Some great conversations taking place here whilst watching others having a game:

Paul Monopoli was here getting an old tube television connected with some help from Nathan.

A hand-held Atari Lynx.  Not only on display but was played by people during the course of the evening.  Interestingly it was released in September 1989 and featured a colour screen.  Compare that to the Nintendo Gameboy released the same year which had a monochrome screen.  It took Nintendo 9 years after this before the Gameboy Colour was released.

Some more chatter.  In the photo, Paul, Matthew, Andrew, Ryan and Aron (left to right).

Another Atari brought in by Nathan Butcher:

A shot here shows the array of machines in line:

Some more enjoyment:

Now we turn to the other systems.

Below we have a unit that Aron brought in.  He explained it was a test/service machine for devices that incorporated the RS-232 plug.  In other words, many years ago our printers/modems/mice would have these plugs that would go into the slots on this machine for testing.

Epsilon below emulating an Atari using this modern device.  Notice the Ghan mousepad.

Epsilon also had a PC Engine set-up.

This was of amusement to many over the course of the night, as seen below:

We also had a new person from Melbourne join us:

For the first time ever to our group we had an old PC with Windows 95.  This brought back many memories.

Nice to see some of the old games being run here which I haven't seen for at least 15 years +

It was also nice to catch up with Paul Monopoli.  Paul is now the Editor of the new Gametraders Retro Live Magazine.

Issue 1 has been released as is available for viewing online here:
I believe that a hardcopies are available at Gametraders.

Theo Karagiris, a known Apple computer collector brought in this LC Pizza Box to load up:

Below is an Amstrad LCD laptop type computer that was brought in.

Thank you everyone again for a really excellent and enjoyable evening.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

October 2016 Meeting Report

Epsilon has written a blog post with plenty of photos covering our latest meeting on 14th October 2016, with a BASIC programming theme.

Link is here:

It was a great night and we hope to see you all at the next meeting! :-)

Sunday, 18 September 2016

September 2016 Meeting report

Epsilon wrote a blog post covering the September 2016 event, with plenty of photos and description of the event. Link is at the bottom of this article.

The Amiga theme was popular, and we had special guests Trevor Dickinson from A-EON Technology and Robert Bernardo from Fresno Commodore Users Group fly in from NZ and USA especially for the meeting! It was a great event!

Link is here:

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Special Guest Trevor Dickinson at our September 16 event!

Some huge news today for our upcoming September 16 Amiga themed event - Trevor Dickinson, the head of A-EON Technology will be coming to our event!

Trevor is extremely well known in the Amiga community, and his company A-EON Technology has been responsible for the AmigaOne X1000, AMIStore App Store, Enhancer, Radeon HD, Warp3D Nova, OpenGLES support and many more important developments for NG and Classic Amiga systems. They also own the popular and forum websites.

A-EON Technology in 2016 are busy working on the upcoming AmigaOne X5000, AmigaOne A1222, as well as software like Enhancer Software for Amiga OS4 (recently released) and Amiga OS3, and even Prisma Megamix hardware for Classic Amigas.

It is fantastic news that Trevor is coming to Adelaide and will give a presentation at our event as well!

We really hope that anyone interested in Amiga and NG Amiga can make it along to our September 16 event to meet Trevor and hear about the latest developments on Amiga in 2016! 

See you there!

Monday, 22 August 2016

August 2016 Event

Epsilon has prepared a blog post with lots of photos covering our latest August 2016 event, with the theme of "Bring your favourite Retro system".

Link is here:

It was a great evening and our biggest attendance so far. Looking forward to the next meeting and hope to see you there!

Monday, 18 July 2016

July Meeting - Meeting Report and Photos

Epsilon has published a blog post today covering our most recent July 2016 meeting, with plenty of photos and coverage of the meeting.

Please head over to the following link to take a look:

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Vintage Computer Forum

A new Australian Vintage Computing Forum has been brought online this week! The address to go to is:

Feel free to sign up and join in on discussing all things Vintage computer related!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Our June 2016 event

Our last event in June 2016 seemed to attract some attention from viewers in Spain.  Here is an article that they published:

Hopefully your spanish is up to scratch :)

See you lot soon

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Photos from the June 2016 Event

Thanks to everyone who came to our event last night, and especially those people who brought in many interesting and rare Retro game console systems to display on the night.

Epsilon has covered the latest Adelaide Retro Computing event held last night, with lots of photos and information on the many systems on display.

The link is here:

We also ran a 2 player retro game console competition for an Atari Flashback 3 system, which lots of people had a go at trying to win - well done to our winner on the left (in the photo below), who was presented the system by prize donator Epsilon (on the right) during the evening:

The meeting was a lot of fun and we hope to see you all at our next meeting!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Meeting this Friday 10th

This week we are holding a meeting.  Details are on this website and Facebook page.

Simon Hackett, who rose to prominence after founding and leading the company 'Internode', has confirmed that he will present later this year.  Simon is known for his passion of vintage machines (see his blog post here) but is also very active in the community with his latest modern developments in renewable energy.

He currently runs an office space called 'Base64' situated on North Terrace here in the Adelaide Central Business District.  I was quite impressed, after a personal tour of his space, at how atmospheric it is with internal gardens and displays.  Vintage computers are also displayed here at Base64 where they allign the outer perimeter of the main conference room.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Photos from our meeting

Meeting 8 April Report

Thank you to all who attended this meeting in our new venue: Eastwood Community Centre Hall.  Last month we situated ourselves in the meeting room at the back of the Centre which met its maximum capacity of 20 persons.  From now on we will hold ourselves in the main Hall which is quite spacious and has ample room for equipment and floorspace to create a presentation area.

Thank you to those who brought in their equipment: Epsilon (CD-TV), Nathan Butcher (Commodore 64 & Commodore 64 Reloaded), Nathan and James Stanley (Commodore SX-64 & Amstrad Sega PC - wow!), Paul Monopoli (brought his vast collection of Amstrad PC units), Alexis Kotlowy (The other Amstrad CPC6128), Gabriel Suki (Commodore Amiga CD-32), Aron Gooch (Amiga 500 with Raspberry pi sidecars expansion), Tim Koch and myself with the other SX-64.  If you have been missed from this list, we can add you on.  Just send a message to Epsilon or myself.

Two presentations took place.  First at 8:00pm Paul Monopoli from the Retrospekt team presented the  Amstrad range of machinery.

Secondly, Nathan Butcher, at 8:30pm presented the Commodore 64 computer and also discussed the reloaded machine.

Nice to also see some new faces tonight.  I did have a chance to have a chat with you all at some stage.

Our financial position is now at a stage where we are affording the hall hire and food/drinks due to larger turnout numbers.  I was happy to put in my own funds into the group to get it off the ground.  We have achieved that together and we are moving forward putting one foot in front of the other.

Next month we are meeting at the same place, same time and with a new theme.  Stay tuned for details!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Interview with Theo Karagiris

I sat down with Theo Karagiris early last Month and discussed his interest in Vintage Computing.  Our discussion covered his Altair 8800 among other topics.

Theo:         I am a software developer.  I develop in – I’ve been doing that for about seventeen years.

Q:     The reason we’re interviewing you is to find out a bit more about your interest in  vintage computing.  Would you like to tell us how you started?

A:          From a young age – early teenager, I guess – I was really interested in computers.  My first computer was a VIC-20, then I had a Commodore 64 and I think an Amiga 500 after that.  After that, I started getting into the PC’s. 

                   Actually, between the Amiga 500 – that I had when I was probably about twenty-two, something like that – between that and my next computer, there was quite a gap.  So between about twenty-two and twenty-four, I guess – when I started university was when I started getting into PC’s. 

                   I guess with the vintage computer thing – when I was younger – I was just really interested in computers, mostly because of games and just computers in general I had a real interest in in any sort of computer – like the old IBM PC’s.  Any computer I saw – because growing up in the 80’s, all the machines that were around during those times, like the IBM PC’s and all the Commodores and Amiga’s and that sort of stuff, just really took a great interest.

                   I guess I just got to the stage a few years ago where the first vintage machine that I actually bought was the Altair.  Obviously when I went to university – after I graduated and I started working – I started using Visual Basic and that’s what got me interested in the Altair because of the history of Basic. 

                   So, over the years I looked around to get my hands on an Altair.  In fact, it started about 1997, I reckon, when I first started working is when I first started becoming interested in the Altair.  But it wasn’t until 2011 that I actually managed to get my hands on one.  So over the years, I’d look every now and again and have a bit of interest, trying to get my hands on one but it never happened.

                   But then eventually, in 2011 I saw this one advertised and made the guy an offer – probably a lot more than what it was worth back then – and he accepted and I got my hands on that.  That was actually the first one that I had, so I was kind of starting off with a big ticket item.

                   From there, as a result of just doing research on the Altair, I just got the idea of collecting all those machines that I used to love when I was younger but could never afford.

                   What I do is; I just typically look around and if I spot something that is available; someone is selling locally, I would snap it up.  So it’s been about five years now – that’s why you see all this junk around the place.

                   The Macintosh’s were good because I never really had much experience with those, so it was good to get my hands on those because it was something new.  I had never used it much back in the day.  It was more Amiga’s and Commodores and early PC’s.  So it was good to learn about the Macintosh’s and the Apple 2.  I’ve got an Apple II, which I haven’t ever really used – I’ve just got it there for – one day – tinkering with.

                   I do a lot of research for the various computers that I have and just learn a bit about the history behind them.  It’s always good if you can get your hands on it too.  It motivates you to learn about it and tinker with it as well.  The other good side about it, is that you can tinker with it and get it working.  It’s a good buzz.

                   So that’s really where the interest came from and what keeps me motivated – just collecting them and getting them working and that sort of thing.

Q:     Out of your entire collection, which are some that you consider your favourite?

A:        Probably the Altair – just because it’s a bit different.  It’s different to pretty much every machine.  Yeah, it’s got switches and – the good thing about the Altair is that via the front panel, you can see the computer working; you can see what’s in the memory and all that sort of stuff.  So it takes a bit of the mystique away of computers and how they work.  And you can manually deposit memory and that sort of thing that you can’t really do on any other computer.  That’s one of my favourites.

                   I guess the Mac’s too; the early Macintosh’s – the all-in-one’s – they’re pretty cool because they have got the little CRT screen; first graphical OS, which is pretty cool.  So I’ve mucked around with those a fair bit.

                   The old IBM PC, I use that every now and again – like DOS games and all that sort of stuff you can run from those machines.

Q:     What are your main uses for the vintage machines?  I know you touched a little bit on it.

Theo:          I didn’t really ever sit there, I guess, and use them for anything that useful.  It’s more just fun; just seeing what I can get running on them. 

                   For example, this compact portable – I got that last week.  I guess the first thing you do is just turn it on; see if it works.  If it doesn’t work, then investigate why it doesn’t work.  This is a classic example.  Someone had brought this home – well in fact, the guy – at his house – he demoed it for me and it pretty much would come up with a – it wouldn’t load the system or anything but I could see it powering up, so I thought ‘fair enough, I’ll get it’.  Then the challenge is to try and get everything working

                   With this, from when I picked it up, it pretty much didn’t do anything at all.  It powered on but you couldn’t really type anything because you couldn’t load DOS or anything like that.  It was just a matter of getting the startup disk; downloading an image for the startup disk, putting the startup disk in, and configuring the hard drive.

                   Now the thing is – over time – it had lost the iOS configuration because the battery had obviously gone dead.  All I did was create a setup disk for that; setup the floppy in the hard drive and the whole thing just worked again – boot it up to DOS via the hard drive.  At the moment I’m just trying to load Windows on it – Windows 3 – so I’ve just been tinkering with that.  So that’s mostly what I do, try to get them working.

                   Another thing I like to do is whenever anybody comes out with a modern bit of hardware; these old machines, I like to tinker with that and get it working.  A good example is, with the Altair; the guys brought out the FDC PLUS, which is a modern floppy controller for it.  I bought one of those, got it working in there. 

                   Another guy, called Martin Eberhard has recently developed an EPROM program for 2708 EPROMS, which are the older EPROMS that that uses.  So I’ve recently ordered one of those.  So, I’ve got that coming from overseas.  That’s a bit of a kit, you’ve got to assemble it and stuff but that should allow me to program the old style 2708 EPROMS, which the Cromemco Bytesaver – that Carter was talking about – Cromemco Bytesaver uses for the Altair.  I’ve never been able to get the original EPROMS to work. 

                   That’s always fun when someone creates a new bit of hardware, to get that working with the old equipment.  That’s done quite a bit because of things like floppy emulators; disks are getting old and hard to come by now.  So a lot of guys are creating floppy emulators, like the ones for Macintosh.  So it’s always good to tinker with that sort of stuff.  That’s a lot of what I do – little hardware projects like that.

                   But in terms of using them for anything useful; like daily use, I don’t really do it.  I play the odd game – like on the Amiga 500 but to be honest, it just doesn’t really hold my attention for too long.  It’s more just the tinkering and that sort of thing that I like to do.  Get a bit of software running on there, see how to configure it and stuff like that.  That would be the sort of day to day – 

Q:     Do you find that there is anything about the old machines that the new ones’ don’t match up to?  Do you think that technology has actually improved?  Or do you feel there is something there that the new machines don’t incorporate?

Theo:        Obviously, new machines have improved.  The type of software you run on them, games especially are pretty mind-blowing compared to the old equipment.  And also the multitasking; we don’t realise how good the modern day multitasking environments are compared to these old machines.  I guess one thing – I’ve heard other people say as well – that the newer machines lack is that sort of simplicity; how simple they were. 

                   Another good thing about the old Commodores, for example, was that you could learn things like Basic.  You had the manual, which had how to learn programming and basic – where I think a lot of that is lost on the newer machine.  A new machine – you can pretty much run anything under the sun on it.  If you want to, you can run basic or any other java or any other development language on there but there is not that real emphasis on learning how to program.

                   Just the simplicity of it, I guess.  The new machines are a lot more complicated; there’s a lot more things you can do.  With the internet, I guess that’s what most people do these days; they get on the internet.  That’s where the focus is, rather than learning programming and all that sort of stuff; that people used to do with the older machines.  

Q:     Did you have any experience with the old Bulletin Boards?

Theo:          A little bit.  I probably came into that whole thing fairly late.  I remember – what’s the first machine I would have had – in fact, I had a modem for the VIC-20 and I did get onto some Bulletin Boards with that.  It used to be the old acoustic coupler hand setting.  In fact, I tried to get my hands on one of those. 

                   There’s an acoustic coupler called ‘data products’ or something and it’s this really funky-looking, flexible thing that takes a handset and is 300 baud.  That gives you an idea of how slow it is, but I used to have one of those plugged into the VIC-20.  And I’ve tried to get my hands on one – I’ve seen a couple go up on eBay but it always goes for astronomical prices.  The last one, I think was like one hundred and fifty bucks, so they’re pretty popular amongst the other nostalgic enthusiasts, like me. 

                   I did get onto some Bulletin Boards, which were hugely expensive.  You pay like – this is back in the mid-80’s – you could pay like twelve dollars an hour – so that wasn’t a good thing.  I think I wasted a fair bit of money on those but that was the earliest experience.
                   But then, probably for a little while – I reckon at some stage, I had a PC – yeah, it was back in mid-90’s I had a 286 PC and it had a modem in it; like a 1.4K modem and I did get on some Bulletin Boards with that.  That was in the early days, just before the internet came along – that’s people still doing the Bulletin Board thing.  So, I did jump onto a few dial up Bulletin Boards with a PC but there was a huge gap in the middle between doing that and the VIC-20 stuff.  I never had a modem during that time.  

Q:    The other week, you attended our event and presented the Altair.  What was your experience of that whole presentation for you?  How did you find peoples’ reactions to it?  Was it like you expected?

Theo:          It was actually better than I expected.  I didn’t really know what to expect because I have never been to group gatherings before; I didn’t really know what to expect.  But I found the crowd there to be right into it, you couldn’t get a more enthusiastic crowd for the Altair.  They were really interested.  They took photos; took pictures, came and looked inside, talked at length about it and that’s great.  You can’t get better than that.  It’s really just the right crowd to present that sort of stuff to.  It’s great because I like it as well.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching the Altair, so it’s really good to talk to people who are into that stuff.

                   Because the average person who comes here – they’ll take a look at it and they’ll say “oh, that looks cool” but don’t really want to know that much about it because they are not really into that sort stuff.  Oh, you talk to them a little bit about it but they don’t really want to know anything in depth.

                   That’s what I found at the group meeting, that it was really enthusiastic and really interested and focused on it.  I found it really good.

Q:     Do you have any dream machines that you would like to own?

Theo:         Not really, to be honest.  The Altair was the dream machine for me; that’s the one I really wanted.  But I can’t say anything’s really motived me that much since getting that.  Like I said, there’s a big difference between that and the other stuff that I’ve got because the other stuff that I’ve got, you could probably get somewhere, but you can’t really get an Altair – especially these days.  It’s been five years since I got one.  They are a lot harder and a lot more expensive to get now.  So that was the thing for me.

                   It’s hard to explain why I was really that interested in it, to be honest.  It was just something I got obsessed with. 

                   It took me almost two years to get it working as well, so it was a real challenge.  It was a ‘couldn’t say die’ challenge.  I just kept at it and spent quite a bit of money doing it too.  But it was worth it in the end; a good achievement to get something like that working.

                         I’ll tell you – because I was pretty naïve when I first bought that machine.  Because in the past – before that – I tinkered with PC’s and cards and whatever else, so I thought the Altair was going to be like that.  But of course, it’s not like that.  It’s obviously totally different.  You’ve got to have soldering skills, engineering knowledge and all that sort of stuff, to fix stuff.  I sort of bit off more than I could chew because I don’t have any of those skills, so I had to ask for a lot of peoples’ help in the Altair group and that sort of thing.  But luckily, there’s other guys who are right into it as well, that are a lot more knowledgeable about engineering and stuff, than me so they were quite happy to help, which I found really good.

Q:     We’ve spoken about the Altair.  Now, you mentioned that you spent two years, getting it going.  Are you interested in discussing what exactly you did to get it working?  Is that okay?

Theo:          Yes, sure.  Like I said, I was pretty naïve when I bought the Altair.  I knew the history behind it and I knew I wanted one, but I didn’t actually know much about the machine itself; any in depth research about the machine itself. 

                   The one that I actually bought was one that I saw advertised on this website and the guy did a pretty good job of showing what components were included in it.  I thought it was pretty comprehensive.  It had the manuals – I’ve got the original manuals and all that sort of stuff.  And one good thing he showed was that it actually worked from the front panel, he actually gave a bit of a demo.  I thought that was great because compared to most of them you see advertised, they don’t come with a lot of extra stuff.  A lot of the time, they don’t even – the seller doesn’t even show them powered on; or working, but I knew that this one worked from the front panel at least, so I thought it was a good option. 

                   I gave the guy an offer and he accepted it and I got the machine.  So I kind of thought I would work out the rest once I got it, which is a bit naïve.  Because the thing that I was missing – that you really need to get the Altair working – is a serial cards and unfortunately this machine didn’t come with a serial card.  It came with a whole bunch of cards, like it had about four memory cards.  It had a cassette interface, where you could plug in a tape drive.  It had a parallel card, which he used back in the day for a terminal.  So, it came with a couple of parallel cards but unbeknown to me – back in the seventies – these parallel terminals were available.  He had one that he had actually built himself, to use the machine with.  But today, you just can’t find them. 

                   The guy I bought the Altair off was actually selling his parallel terminal but he wasn’t selling it together with the Altair.  As it happened, I got this Altair but it’s got no serial card and I eventually learned from doing a bit of research, it really needed a serial card and they are not easy to come by. 

                   The thing is, there is lots of plug-in S100 cards but unfortunately, back in those days, they didn’t have any standards so each serial card was pretty much made for each different manufacturer and you couldn’t just take a serial card that was made for another S100 machine and plug it into the Altair.  Because the way the software loaded, they need to have certain configuration and most of them would be different. 

                   I needed to do – like I said – hundreds of hours of research to figure out what to do and obviously, the original MITS serial cards were pretty much as rare as hens’ teeth; you just couldn’t come across them.  I found a few guys that had them posted on websites and I would try to get in contact with them and offer them money – to get my hands on them – but I never could.

                   I bought one particular serial card, it was a cromemco serial card which I tried to get working on the Altair but it would never work.  It actually could be used with an 880 processor but just could never get that one to work.

                   But then just doing the research, I discovered that there is a particular serial card made by a company called “Solid State Music” that is compatible with the Altair; you can actually configure it to replicate an Altair serial card.  So I managed to get my hands on one of those for about a hundred dollars, U.S. – and this was a few years when the exchange rate was pretty good, compared to now – and then I had that card for probably about a year, trying to configure it to get it working on the Altair – could never get it to work. 

                   Eventually – it was probably around 2013, 2012 – I saw another Altair for sale – which is that one down there, an Altair B model – and it was pretty junked out but the good thing about it was it had an Altair serial card in it, a two channel 882SIO they called it; the MITS 882SIO and it had a number of other cards, with disk controllers in it and I bought that machine – maybe because it had the serial card in it.  So I gave the guy an offer and it was reasonably cheap because it was a non-working machine.  I figured if I could take the serial card out of that and put in my original Altair, which does work, I could get the whole thing working.

                   So as it happened, I got that machine and luckily figured out – after a little while – the way that the serial card was jumper’d wasn’t the standard way.  So I have to re-jumper it to give it the standard port address but it did work.  I plugged it into my original Altair, got it working and was over the moon.  It had been like a couple of years that I had tried to get it working.  And that kind of motivated me to go back to my Solid State Music serial card and get that working.  So I communicated quite a bit with this guy called Mike Douglas in the U.S, who is a real Altair expert, and he gave me a lot of info on how to get this Solid State Music card configured; and eventually I got that working too.  So now I have two working serial cards – the original MITS one and the Solid State Music. 

                   As it happens, the Solid State Music card is actually more reliable and better to use, so I keep that one installed in the Altair.

                   So that was pretty much the challenge of getting it working.  Luckily, when I bought it originally I had some working memory cards, but they were pretty small.  I had a couple of 4K memory cards.  One worked properly, like you would get full use of the 4K and the other one, you could get use of about the first 3K.  So about 7K, which isn’t a whole lot of memory.  You need a bit more than that to run things like CPM, so I picked up a 64K Californian computer System S100 card.  So that’s been really good.  That works in the Altair; that’s a dynamic memory card and it’s dated a few years later, about 1981, so it’s a bit more of a modern card.

                   Luckily for the old S100 machines, there’s quite a few memory cards around and luckily they work across many machines.  As long as it’s compatible with the CPU but serial cards are the big thing with the Altair.   I’m not alone because there’s other guys always looking for Altair serial cards.

                   As it happens now, I’m getting a little annoyed because there’s a couple on eBay that are for sale.  After years and years I never saw one for sale but there’s a couple that have sold recently.  Eventually they do come up, but it takes a long time.  And the people that have got them don’t sell them.  You can contact guys that have got them and say ‘how much do you want for it?’ but they just don’t sell them.  You’ve got to be lucky to get your hands on one. 

                   So that was the main challenge in getting it working; just getting a working serial card.  Once I got that up and running and understood how it worked – and I’ve actually written a guide, there’s a guide on my website on how to configure the Solid State Music serial card for the Altair, which I know quite a few people have read because they take that as a pretty good option.  Because a Solid State Music IO4 – it’s called – they are actually more readily available than the original MITS serial cards.  There’s probably a lot more of those floating around than there is original Altair serial cards.  If someone can get their hands on one of those, they can get their Altair working using one of those. 
                   So that was the biggest challenge in getting it working. 

Theo's website, which has more photos of his items and blog discussions is available here: