MITS Altair Word Processing System

Here are the various parts of the MITS Altair Word Processing system except for the desk.

Altair Word Processing System

MITS Altair 8800BT computer:

Beehive B100 Terminal:

MITS Altair 88-DCDD Disk Drive 0:

MITS Altair 88-DCDD Disk Drive 1:

Altair branded QUME Q70 daisy wheel printer:


14 Responses

  1. The system and photographs are very clean compared to many Altairs that I have seen. The owners have taken good care of it. The system was likely was used as a word processing system, however with a Turnkey Module mod, more RAM, and more software, it is the equivalent of a MITS 300/25 Business System.

  2. The Altair Word Processing system would have likely have used the Altair Software Distribution Company (ASDC) Word Processing Software. ASDC was the software part of the Atlanta, GA Altair dealer. This organization evolved into Peachtree Software. The other modules were Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Payroll, and General Ledger. The quality of the software, especially combined with MITS dynamic RAM, would lead to many lawsuits against MITS/Pertec. The upgraded accounting software did not include Word Processing. The WP manual has likely not been scanned to a PDF. I have a manual in the Attic, if you do not have one. The replacement WP software would have been Qtype, or another early WP software package.

    • admin says:

      Hi Tom,

      I do have the Altair Word Processing System manual. I will scan the manuals I have (if they are not already available) and post them.

      • My comments are the first things that come to mind and are for a general audience. They may include things you already know. My main interest is next generation of Altair accounting software and I have some newer manuals that have not been published and some older stuff that is not worth my time. The ASDC software is the first microcomputer “shrink-wrap” software. AKA Peachtree Software. It is also highly flawed and generated legal problems and may have killed business when they lost their Accounts Receivable. WP was so bad Pertec dropped it.

  3. I only see 32K of dynamic RAM. This would have been very limiting due large accounting programs and the need for RAM used for BASIC string garbage collection. The MITS dynamic RAM is not reliable enough for accounting use.

  4. The Turnkey Module is an early model with 1K of RAM. The TURMON monitor could be added. The 88-CLG mod and newer board revisions allowed using a full 64K. The extra RAM greatly improved BASIC garbage collection speed.

    • admin says:

      I have a second 8800BT with 64K of memory. However, the cards are in tight and removing them can harm the S100 slots so I have not removed any cards for extra pictures. Note: the second complete system that includes the 64K 8800BT also has the 8800B color scheme but are the same drives. They are pictures in the top-most picture. Pictures of the floppy drives on this page are the older 8800 line looking drives.

  5. The white plastic on the drives may turn yellow and identifies a DC power drive motor. The plastic is now brittle and prone to cracks. The 8800 vs 8800B style dress plates is only a cosmetic difference. There is also an Aluminum door version of the DC Pertec drives.

  6. The drive with the bar across the back is newer. Pertec was an “innovator of sheet metal drives”, (not cast metal). The cabinet and drive are too flexible and only 3/4 mounting screws should be installed.

  7. Lots of variation inside this drive cabinet model. The open drive cabinet shows the original buffer board and separate power supply. Cooling in this cabinet is poor and may cause circuit failures. The power supple may be bad and also have leaking caps. The top may have duct tape to modify air flow. The fan is missing. Some fans are installed to blow in and other blow out. Some newer cabinets have a combined buffer board and power supply with a large black heat sink.

  8. The printer is a Qume Sprint 3/45 (45 cps) and looks like the newer and faster Sprint 3/55. The older power supply may not be attached to the printer like newer models. The chrome plated paper guide and paper catcher are missing. Buy ribbons ASAP because they may be hard to find. Print quality is excellent and many daisy wheels were available for different fonts.

  9. The Q70 interface is for the All Purpose Interface (API) and the 50pin interface is actually high speed serial. The Qume/Diablo protocol supported works with some Qume, Diablo, and NEC impact printers. The board requires and undocumented mod to provide ribbon lift for an NEC Spinwriter (thimble, not daisy wheel) printer. The printer and interface require a software driver. The driver is included on a fourth internal board for the Sprint 5 RS-232 printer version.

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