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Retro computer replicas (Altairduino, etc.)
04-17-2018, 02:31 PM
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Retro computer replicas (Altairduino, etc.)
I received (and built) my Altairduino kit over the weekend, and it's a great recreation. It runs a cycle-accurate simulation on an Arudino Due, at about the same speed as an original Altair 8800. Plus there's enough headroom on the ARM to emulate floppy disks, hard disks, and different serial devices, plus the Music System for some nice low-fi audio. Various boot ROMs and BASIC examples are built in to the firmware, so you can get up and running quickly without needing to manually toggle in first-stage bootloaders and feed in paper tape for 5+ minutes (though you can still do that, even over RS-232 if you've got an old tape reader).

It's pretty surreal front-panel booting an "Altair" into CP/M and connecting a modern laptop as the terminal via USB or bluetooth and playing a game of Ladder. I think I need to track down an old serial video terminal. Big Grin

The Due seems perfectly-sized for simulating the 8800, and doesn't feel like you're swatting a fly with artillery shells. It's not a board you're going to be installing a desktop-caliber Linux distribution on, that's for sure. You can also install the simulator on a Mega, but it doesn't support floppy/hard disk emulation, and runs at about 25% the speed of the original.

Anybody else built one of these, or any other cool replica computer kits? I'd love to pick up other interesting ones in the sub-$200 range. There's a Raspberry-Pi-based PDP8/I kit that looks like about the same level of difficulty.
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Retro computer replicas (Altairduino, etc.) - Dave Britten - 04-17-2018 02:31 PM



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