back to article Microsoft adds cloud enablement to 1970s Altair 8800 tech

Microsoft got back to its roots this week with another go – this time cloud-enabled – at an Altair 8800 running on Azure Sphere hardware. Readers with long memories might remember Azure Sphere hardware being used to resurrect the 1970s box in 2018. The latest implementation brings things up to date with new development boards …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    An open-source Intel 8080 emulator lurks under the hood

    My (as yet unseen) 8080 emulator on Logisim-evolution appears to run, but hangs up on both Altair Basic and Tiny Basic. It gets a bit further with Tiny Basic - at least as far as the sign on message - so I'll work on that :)

    1. swm Silver badge

      Re: An open-source Intel 8080 emulator lurks under the hood

      I recall, back in the day, writing a Z-80 emulator in SIGMA FORTRAN. It actually ran Microsoft BASIC, albeit slowly.

  2. ThomH Silver badge

    If you think that's contrived, check out Dave Tyler's microservice-powered Space Invaders emulator

    Space Invaders is also 8080 based; as documented here, Dave's emulator has a main loop of:

    • call check-for-interrupt microservice; schedule RST x if so;

    • otherwise: call memory bus microservice to get next opcode.

    • call appropriate opcode microservice as per decision above.

    The opcode microservices are implemented in a range of different languages: Swift, Javascript, Visual BASIC, C#, Typescript, Python, Ruby, Perl, Java, Lua, Scala, D, F#, Kotlin, C++, Rust, NIM, Crystal, Powershell, Deno, Go, Haskell, C and Dart.

    And, yes, it's satire, but it's all really implemented and then profiled and discussed.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      My word, and I thought I was mad...

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: If you think that's contrived…

      Parody it may be, but it sure seems to resemble a lot of modern design practice.

    3. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

      re check out Dave Tyler's microservice-powered Space Invaders emulator


      "A blockchain based backend is probably the best solution to this problem."


    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: If you think that's contrived...

      "As with all modern design it’s crucial to adhere to the model of “make it work then make it fast” and that’s something that this project really takes to heart. In 1974 when the 8080 was released it achieved a staggering 2MHz. Our new modern, containerised, cloud first design doesn’t quite achieve that in it’s initial iteration. As can be seen from the screenshot above, space invaders as deployed onto an AKS cluster runs at ~1KHz which gives us ample time for debugging but does make actually playing it slightly difficult."

  3. idiot taxpayer here again


    Many thanks for including the MSX link in the article, I have one of those machines in the attic. I think I am going to have an enjoyable weekend. Assuming the machine still works. And if it doesn't, I will get it fixed. Crossed fingers...

    Thanks again and have a few of these,

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We had the "cloud" back in 1975

    It was called Timeshare systems. You fired up your 300 baud modem and off you went.

    In fact the first Apple II I used in late 1977 ran Forth and offloaded the heavy lifting to a Data General mini in another room at the other end of the lab which offloaded the really heavy lifting bunch of DG mini's in a basement 5 miles away. All running Forth, all talking over modems.

    So nothing really new under the sun. Just the speed of the processors, data links, and the size of memory available gets faster and larger.

    1. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: We had the "cloud" back in 1975

      And the PSTN/POTS was usually depicted as a cloud in most diagrams

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: We had the "cloud" back in 1975

      300 baud. But my KSR33 could only use 110 baud of that. When I got my VT05, I tripled my speed!

      Those were the days :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We had the "cloud" back in 1975

        Had ASR33's at school, directly linked to a PDP8, but the lab DG /DEC mini's were connected to Decwriters and a very low serial number Apple II. With no lid. Due to the wire wrapped prototype board that connected to the rack of lab DG minis. The Decwriters could directly access the modems, to talk to trans Atlantic / European labs etc, but the Apple II had to go through the mini's.

        That was cutting edge, but not that unusual, back in 1977 / 1978.

        For me the real revelation was going from the Khz clockspeeds of the PDP8 to the MHz's of the Apple II. And no longer having ringing ears and sore fingers after an hour or two on the computer.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What's an Altair 8800? How did it differ from an Altair 8080? The 8080 i remember from 1975 was a 1MHz machine that was upgradeable to 2MHz.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: 8800?

      The Altair 8800 was its name; it used an 8080 processor.

  6. aldolo

    crack ms with altarir?

    how cool whould be to crack-in ms network using altair emulator bugs?

  7. naive Silver badge

    Maybe MS should spend their time on real world issues ?

    Nice they brought a 1970's thing to run on Azure, I can't deploy a Rocky Linux install in it.

    Followed all the guidelines, made local Hyper-V VM, exported a fixed sized 24GB VHD image (!) to Azure Blob just to find out "deployment failed" not a single line of diagnostics why it failed, no console output or anything else that could be helpful to diagnose the issue.

    Probably the Rocky Linux image doesn't run the spyware they are installing on Linux systems.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did an 8080 assembler course at uni in around 1981. As an exercise we coded a very simple program in assembler then hand translated that into machine code then into binary and entered it into the Altair by setting the front panel switches. It was tedious but sort of cool as a "been there, done that" experience.

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