Those of us who used 8 bit machines back then vastly preferred the IMSAI 8080, which had nice, wide paddle switches.
Considering that the case is virtually empty, and I'm guessing it is more than possible to shrink the current circuit board down; I'd be much more interested in a teeny tiny Altair 8800. Preferably small enough that most fingers would be too large and clumsy to flick one switch without tripping another; just for shits and giggles of course.
How about a modern PC with a front panel like an 8800, with 64 address switches and 64 data switches?
I built one of those in high school. To think of how many times I had to flip those damn switches just to get a light to blink...but it was cool.
I guess I was a Maker but didn't know it.
From the FAQ:
Can the Altair Clone play "Fool on the Hill" and "Daisy?"
The Clone properly runs the programs that caused the original Altair to play "music," but unfortunately, since the Clone does not emit unintended radiation in the AM band, you won't hear any music on your radio.
Which is a neat little hack I'd never heard of, and which makes owning an Altair actually seem cool. But this worthless clone can't even accidentally emit radio interference!
Seriously, though, without a clone teletype machine to plug it into, wouldn't this basically just be limited to looking at the blinkenlights?
The base price doesn't mean much. You had to buy almost $2,000 worth of options to get a machine that could actually compute something. That was the price of a new car at the time!
Pretty damn quaint... I'd probably play with it for half an hour and never touch it again.
It'd be a while yet before the C64 came along, which I'd say marked the point the PC transcended the tinkerer's niche; I had a Trash-80 for example, and it wasn't worth a damn (I mean, it was pretty cool to have an actual computer in your house, but mostly only if you were the sort of person who'd previously queued for time on one). Was pretty unimpressed with BBC Micros or Apples of the era too; if you owned one of these and then saw a C64 do its thing, you were likely to feel at least somewhat bummed...
I guess it was the Amiga that trumped the C64 for a while there, before Intel's IBM-clone army stole the PC acronym.
Home computers were becoming rather worthwhile by 1990... not so much before 1980.
...These days, it's nuts. I just bought three Arduino Nano clones for like, $8. That's a few more flops/$ than this Altair clone...
ETA: quite a few more flops/cm³, too.
If you follow the link through and look at the details page, they noticed the vast empty space
Installation of a Micro-ATX PC Motherboard
The case of the Altair 8800 Clone is very under-utilized by the Clone's own hardware. For the fun of it, the empty
space in the cabinet is pre-drilled to accept a micro-ATX motherboard and a 3.5 inch hard drive. In addition, the
right AUX switch on the front panel is connected to a three pin header to allow its use as a power and/or reset
switch for the PC motherboard. A PC rear panel for the Clone may be manufactured in the future to accept a
standard PC power supply along with the motherboard's I/O panel and I/O slots.
Though i imagine they could easily shrink the entire thing to the size of a calculator if they weren't aiming to make it look like an original. It'd be the size of the serial connectors and switches being the things limiting the shrink!
There's another old computer front panel clone out there, if you're interested in such things... a PDP-8.
I take it as a good sign when technical documentation includes the phrase "for the fun of it."
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