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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The IMSAI 8080

IMSAI 8080


IMS Associates Inc. (US)



Date Launched

Early 1976


$792 as a kit
$950 ready assembled
(Not sold in UK)

Microprocessor type

Intel 8080A @ 2 MHz

ROM size

None as standard. PROM expansion boards were available, holding from 512 bytes to 4 kilobytes.

Standard RAM

None included. Minimum was a 4 kilobyte board for $279 (with battery backup facility).

Maximum RAM

64 kilobytes, costing $3899

Keyboard type

22 toggle switches on front panel

Supplied language

None supplied but BASIC, FORTRAN and Assembler could be loaded.

Text resolution

Display was red LEDs on the front panel:

  • 16 address indicators
  • 8 data bus indicators
  • 8 status indicators
  • 8 user-programmed indicators

A video interface board providing 24 x 80 characters was available for $465.

Graphics resolution

No graphics without extra hardware.
Cromemco made an S-100 card giving up to 128x128 pixels in eight colours.

Colours available

Red LED or monochrome video


No sound without extra hardware

Cassette load speed

No cassette interface.
Third-party floppy disk systems could be added, or some software was distributed on punched paper tape.

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

495 x 432 x 178
Not known

Special features

Used the 'standard' S-100 bus.

Good points

Case could hold up to 22 expansion cards.
Several S-100 modules were available including serial and parallel communications, external keyboard, and digital-to-analogue converter.

Bad points

More expensive than most other desktop computers at the time.
Limited usability without extra expenditure (keyboard, display adaptor, programming language, RAM...).

How successful?

Like other early computers, the IMSAI 8080 did not sell in huge numbers but it remained on sale for several years and was popular with its owners.


The IMSAI 8080 was designed to be an improved version of the Altair 8800 computer, with better quality components.

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