Talk:Altair BASIC

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Please post the language's EBNF grammar, and highlight the differences between Altair BASIC and other Microsoft BASICS.

  • Would the source code help? I've posted a link to the Internet Archive's record of Reuben Harris' 2001 disassembly of Altair Basic. Haikupoet (talk) 01:48, 7 July 2008 (UTC)



There was mention of me in this article, where it falsly claims I was involved in bootlegging altair basic. This is not true and I resent this connection.

Where did you obtain this information?

John D

I'm surprised that nobody responded to this sooner. Any external sources I can find that connect Mr. Draper to the BASIC bootleggers seem to point back here - questionable indeed. On the other hand, Steven Levy's Hackers refers to Dan Sokol as the "liberator" of Altair BASIC, and I have reassigned the credit/blame for the deed to him.
Beinsane 23:06, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

About Altair 8800[edit]

Hi, I became very curious about the following statement: "This followed the common engineering industry practice of a trial balloon, an announcement of a non-existent product to gauge interest." How common was/is this practice and where can I read more about it (the wikipedia links was not that informative). //Jonas —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:45, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

As I recall, a Popular Electronics Magazine article stated Gates had actually claimed the product was already written, not that it was in development. He then stalled scheduling the meeting while his room mate wrote the basic interpreter program. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:07, 8 October 2011 (UTC)


I'm wondering what should I do with the Altair 8800 with only switches and lights?


Hey, do you own one? If so, cool! have you verified that it works? As for your question; if I had a barebone Altair to play with, I'd probably try and use the toggle switches to enter and run a tiny test program consisting of a few Intel 8080 machine code instructions---say, a program that stores a bit pattern in the accumulator and repeatedly shifts the pattern to the left or right; this will display a moving light pattern on the console. Considering the lights are red LEDs, how about that for Christmas? :-) --Wernher 00:38, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
Sorry. I don't have an Altair. I was looking for computer history and I found the altair 8800.
So the user must use switches to enter a program and run it to make the red leds flashing.
Now I'm wondering if MITS was released monitor and keyboard after Apple was released Apple 1?
I'd like to see Altair with monitor and keyboard. I like the picture the Altair with a disk drive.
Is true that the Adventure (aka Crystal Cave) was developped on Altair?

No. According to the article, Colossal Cave was developed on a PDP-10. – gpvos (talk) 20:00, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

Time Frame[edit]

It would be nice to know when Altair BASIC was developed. Any idea, anyone? Complainer

Bootstrap Loader[edit]

"While on the plane they each wrote a bootstrap program to read the tape into memory, competing to see who could make it shortest."

Paul Allen went to Albuquerque alone.[1] -- SWTPC6800 05:29, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

From Hard Drive by James Wallace & Jim Erickson. Page 78

By late February they felt they were ready. Allen would be the one to fly out to MITS. On the eve of Allen's appointment with Roberts, Gates told his friend to go home and get some sleep so he would have his wits about him the next day. Gates remained in the computer room, making last-minute fixes in the program. He barely had it ready in time for Allen to catch his early morning flight out of Boston's Logan International Airport. As his plane was on its final approach into Albuquerque, Allen suddenly had a horrible thought. "Oh my God!" he cried out loud, startling the passenger seated next to him. He and Gates had forgotten to write what's known as a "bootstrap," a program that would instruct the Altair how to load BASIC. Writing on a piece of paper in complicated 8080 machine language, Allen had the program completed before the jet's wheels peeled rubber on the runway of the Albuquerque airport. (Later, Allen and the always competitive Gates would have a contest to see who could write the shortest loader program. Gates won.)

Page 82. The use of the PDP-10 caused a flap but there was no written policy on using the PDP-10 for personal use. There soon was a policy, Gates and Allen then bought computer time from a timesharing service.

SWTPC6800 03:45, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

The image[edit]

The language on the listing in the image is certainly not Basic.-- (talk) 02:32, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

It is assembly language for the Intel 8080 microprocessor using a modified Digital Equipment Corporation macro assembler. The code was compiled on a DEC PDP 10 and the resulting program was a BASIC interpreter that ran on the Intel 8080 microprocessor in the Altair computer. Thanks for pointing out the confusing image caption. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 03:42, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Confusing text in "Origin and development" section[edit]

About the bootstrap loader: we're told that Allen wrote this as the plane made its final approach. However, the last sentence of the section is "Later, they made a bet on who could write the bootstrap program first. Gates won." This is impossible if Allen had already written it! Does this mean a different bootstrap program, or (as implied by the quote higher up this Talk page) the shortest bootstrap program? Whatever, the text as it stands needs editing. Loganberry (Talk) 14:11, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Other info[edit]

Make a general list/table of version release dates etc..

    Altair Basic 3.2 (4k)
    Altair 8k Basic
    Altair Basic 4.0
    MITS Disk Extended BASIC Version 4.1
    Altair Disk Extended Basic Version 300-5-C (made available by Scott LaBombard)
    Altair Disk Extended Basic Version 5.0 (from Andrew Kessel)
SIMH file   Name                        NameDetails                 Copyright
basex       ALTAIR BASIC REV. 4.0       [EXTENDED VERSION]          COPYRIGHT 1977 BY MITS INC.
bas440      4K BASIC 4.0                                            COPYRIGHT MITS 1976
bas432      BASIC VERSION 3.2           [4K VERSION]
bas8        ALTAIR BASIC REV. 4.0       [EIGHT-K VERSION]           COPYRIGHT 1976 BY MITS INC.
— Preceding unsigned comment added by So-retro-it-hurts (talkcontribs) 08:41, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to 2 external links on Altair BASIC. Please take a moment to review my edit. You may add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it, if I keep adding bad data, but formatting bugs should be reported instead. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether, but should be used as a last resort. I made the following changes:

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YesY Archived sources have been checked to be working

Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 19:35, 29 March 2016 (UTC)