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MITS Altair 8800BT on the workbench

Manufacturer Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems (MITS)
Model 8800BT
Date Announced 1977
Date Canceled Approximately 1979
Number Produced Unknown
Country of Origin USA
Current Value $500-$1,200
Processor Intel 8080a
Speed 2 MHz
RAM Up to 63K
ROM 256 Byte Bootstrap Loader. 1K ROM (4x1702a) possible on bootstrap board.
Storage Typically MITS 88-DCDD or MITS 3202 8" hard sector drives
Expansion 18 slot motherboard
Bus S-100
Video None
I/O Parallel and Serial I/O
OS Options MITS DOS, Disk BASIC, Pertec CP/M on Altair
Notes The 8800BT was a "Turnkey" version of 8800B with a turnkey card that was configurable with a jump on boot address, EPROMS and a serial port.
Related Items in Collection 2 MITS 8" disk drives. Disk BASIC, Fortran and assorted other software. Full documentation for the CPU, all cards and the software.
Related Items Wanted 3202 dual disk drive, additional software

Towards the end of Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) existance the company built on the success of their Altair line of computers with their first "turnkey" machine.

The Altair 8800BT was a traditional Altair 8800B model with the front panel blocked off and most of the switches removed. Instead of the full suite of programmer switches for data entry and control, there were two. One for run/stop and the other to "Start" the system. There was also a key to power the computer on. Turnkey meant just that - you turned the key and the machine started automatically. No longer did users have to enter addresses and run code from ROM to start their machines.

The 8800BT, unlike the rest of the Altair line, required at least one disk drive to run. When turned on the machine automatically jumped to a predefined address in memory and ran the code stored there on a 1702 EPROM. Unless the machine was modified, this code was designed to boot a disk drive, usually an 88-DCDD (a single 8" disk drive based on the Pertec FD400 or FD500 line of drives). A dual disk enclosure was also available.

MITS Altair 8800BT boxed for shipment (on arrival)

My 8800BT came well packaged from an eBay purchase (it's nearly impossible to package items well enough to protect them from the ravages of UPS. I go with bullet-proof packaging and FedEx ground for safety). The boxes contain the two drives, the mainframe and the documents. All of the electronics were double boxed and wrapped in bubble wrap, not peanuts.

Unlike my luck with other acquisitions, this machine was an absolute dream. After I unpacked it and gave it a quick checkout, I plugged everything in and booted up the first disk in the included software. Less then 30 seconds later I saw a prompt on my terminal!

The machine came with various manuals and disks including the 8800BT users manual, the 88-DCDD documents and the Altair BASIC manual. Disks include BASIC and various utilities and business programs. The software I have for my other Altair machines also works including Altair DOS 1.0 and FORTRAN.

(Submitted September 13, 2011 11:18:28 by Larry Pyeatt)

I have an almost identical system. But I may have to sell it. :( Could you give me an idea of how much it would be worth?

(Submitted June 3, 2009 10:26:18 by Larry)

I just acquired a Mits 8800B with the toggle switches and a 8800B Turn key with the disks drives for both. I need the 8800BT Documentation, Floppy Disk documentation, C700 printer documentation. Does any body have an original set of these that they can spare.

I also need the 88-PMC prom board.

I am looking forward to getting these systems up and running. I have some software if others would like copies I maybe able to make them.

Thank you


(Submitted December 14, 2008 15:16:21 by Zane)

Are any of these available for sale at a low price ($0-100). I would like to buy one

(Submitted March 20, 2007 02:33:13 by Nando Favaro)

I feel terrible for throwing out by complete desk-set 8800b system with dual 5M hard disks. I only have the desk remaining (cry)

I did hook up my TRS80 Model I to the drive controller and used Tiny Pascal on the TRS80 to perform full seeks as quickly as possible. The desk shook violently as if an earthquake was happening. It was fun! The magnet on the hard disk was 75 pounds and the head travel was about 10 inches!!!

-Nando Favaro

(Submitted August 21, 2006 13:55:44 by Larry Pyeatt)

You mention that you have some boot floppys for your Altair 8800bt. Is there any way I could get a copy of them?

(Submitted July 2, 2005 07:26:31 by Irl Davis)

During the late 70's I used to sell these units to a number of commerical companies. I am trying to find a complete system to buy. Is this unit for sale?

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