[vcf-midatlantic] S100 hybrid IMSAI/MITs on Ebay

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Fri Aug 11 12:44:00 EDT 2017

Bill Degnan says:

[link to IMSAI on eBay]

Assuming this was assembled in the late 70's early 80's from parts of
"older" machines.  I am sure Herb would agree there were a lot more of
these kinds of S-100 machines used.  Most early "stock" S-100 systems 
were modified and did not survive into the 80's in their original stock

I bet the person who buys this will take the parts and use them to
"complete" other machines to return those to stock condition, destroying
the historical evidence that most computers of the 70's were hacked. or
paint the grey TAI chassis to make it blue.

I do understand about the financial value incentive to buy/sell stock
items, but historically there is a price to pay, lost knowledge.


Bill evoked my name, so I'll respond, but try not to take all the 
"bait". By the way, the system in question was re-offered as a mixed 
system, it has pieces of IMSAI, TEI and other brands of boards in it. 
That's more informative, if not honest, of the seller to do.

To Bill's point. It's a simple fact of history, that most owners of 
early S-100 systems (before they were sold as complete turn-key 
disk-based systems), bought them in pieces, modified them like crazy, 
mixed board-brands like crazy, made their own boards. This was done for 
good reasons, at the time. and...it's still done today. In the era, it 
was not "hacking", it was normal and necessary. It was critical to, and 
demonstrated, the growth of the industry. That is the history.

So notions of "stock IMSAI 8080" or "stock MITS Altair" are mostly 
...(hitting delete key repeatedly)....not consistent with actual history 
of use. Some are, and that's fine too, IMSAI and MITS sold stock 
complete systems (with branded disk drives and controllers, etc.) I have 
some brand-systems myself (Ithaca Intersystems comes to mind).

It's pointless for me to tell other people what to do today with things 
they own or buy. Or to argue the merits of a stock system versus non-stock.

It is not pointless, for me (or Bill Degnan) to represent and inform, 
about actual history of use, of a brand  or of one system. The lost 
knowledge that Bill speaks of, is knowledge of the diversity of 
IMSAI/Altair compatible boards, and the history of S-100 companies, and 
the stories of individuals through the S-100 computers they put 
together, for purpose. It's a rich history, as I suggested.

Some of the S-100 systems or boards on my Web site, have a history to 
them which I've described. Bill does the same on his site. 
s100computers.com has many histories of S-100 companies as part of the 
design history of the boards shown on-site. There's many other sites 
which discuss "history".

Those individual efforts matter. It's not done much in books; there's 
some vintage-magazines with articles. Most of the published "histories", 
the professional historians, if they bother focus on a handful of 
computer brands and only a few early, specific systems. Antique 
professionals hardly care at all about old computers. There's exceptions 
of course.

Thus, the burden of preserving this history, falls MOSTLY on individual 
"hobbyists", and a handful of institutions (some small, some not) who 
care to do the same. The downside, is the indifference and lack of 
respect, for amateurs, from professionals. Hardly a new phenomena.

I really don't want to argue about this. People, institutions, 
publishers, professionals - all make their choices to suit their 
interests and resources. And so do I. I'm responsible for my efforts, 
not someone else's. My work speaks for itself.

Herb Johnson

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net

More information about the vcf-midatlantic mailing list