A Love Letter To The Sphere Computer

[Ben Z] loves the Sphere computer, a very early entry in the personal computer boom of the mid 1970s. The 6800 CPU was unique in its day that it was a full system — at least in theory. If you could afford the whole system, you got a nice case with a keyboard and a memory-mapped display board. You can see a great video tour of the system below the break.

The Sphere suffered from a few problems, none of which were easily foreseeable by its designer. First, the 6800 didn’t get the traction that the 8080-derived CPUs did. Second, the S-100 bus would prove to be popular but that nearly always meant an 8080-type processor in practice. Third, while an all-in-one system was the right idea, it was pricey at the time, and many people would opt for something less expensive even if it had less capability. People also wanted to leverage hardware they may have already had. It was easier to imagine hooking up a surplus TeleType, for example, to a more conventional computer than to a Sphere that expected its own display hardware and keyboard.

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