Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Altair Clone a real product, or just a few hand made mock-ups?
The Altair 8800 Clone is a very real product, professionally designed and manufactured. Here is a photo of case inventory for the clone.
Does the Altair Clone run all Altair software?
The Altair Clone will run all Altair software that is designed to run on the hardware present in the Clone. See the full hardware configuration on the home page. If a program requires a particular I/O card or graphics card not listed, then no, that software will not execute properly.
Does the emulated 8080 CPU really duplicate operation of a real 8080?
The 8080 CPU emulation in the Altair Clone passes a tough set of CPU tests. Some of these tests exercise undocumented "features" and quirks of the 8080 CPU that can only be tested by comparison to real silicon. Several popular emulators on the internet cannot pass all of these tests.
Can the Altair Clone play "Fool on the Hill" and "Daisy?"
Yes, the Altair Clone emits sufficient EMI to play music through an AM radio like the original Altair. The signal is weaker than with a real Altair, but with a little effort, the signal can be found. Click here for a quick demonstration. An article about using the Altair to play music through an AM radio along with source code can be found here. Additional videos about music on the Altair can be seen towards the end of the list on The Altair Experience link.
The Clone can also be configured to play three-part music using the "Music System" made popular on the Sol-20 computer in the late 1970's. See this page for more information.
Is there an expansion bus? Can S-100 boards be added?
The computer does not have any sort of expansion bus, so S-100 boards cannot be added to the system. However, with all the empty space inside, the Clone makes an excellent display case for your spare S-100 boards! I have done this with my Clone, but did not post pictures to avoid confusion about S-100 support.
Is there is a method or plan to provide future upgrades to the Clone's firmware if needed?
Yes, updates to the Clone's firmware can be download from the AltairClone.com website (see the Support link) and installed by the end user. For example, a recent update added the Altair 88-VI/RTC board (Vectored Interrupt and Real Time Clock) to the hardware supported by the Clone.
Can the computer be configured to run from international power mains?
Yes, the Altair Clone is shipped ready for 100-240 volt operation with a US style plug. Operation from an international power main requires only a plug adapter as the power supply automatically adjusts for 100-240 vac power.
Will the Altair Clone work with a Teletype?
The ASR-33 Teletype typically used with the original Altair uses 20ma current loop signalling for its serial communication. However, the serial ports on the Altair Clone are RS-232 only. To connect a Teletype to the Altair Clone (or any other RS-232 serial port), a simple RS-232 to current loop converter can be built. See this page for more information.