Interfacing With the Past

INTERFACE magazine, June 1976

INTERFACE was one of the earliest computer hobbyist magazines, and this issue was the first computer publication I bought, in the summer between my freshman and sophmore years in high school. I was taking a chemistry course at Lane Community College, and after class I’d stop downtown at the transit mall to hang around at The Real Oregon Computer Company, one of the first personal computer shops to open up in the state.

ROCC sold the Altair 8800 and IMSAI 8080 (which was by far the cooler-looking of the two units). That’s not what’s on the cover of the magazine, though. Neither machine had a monitor, they had to be hooked up to some sort of terminal to get human-readable output. That’s an ADM video terminal behind the cheesy plastic model of the Enterprise. The 12″ terminal (the size of an original iMac) alone cost $1,000 or more — in 1975 dollars — and it displayed one color. Well, two, I guess, you could get green or white phosphor versions.

I just watched someone buy a 19″ flat-screen for a fraction of that price at Office Depot yesterday.