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The Micral

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Top of plastic display frame
The Micral The Micral

Courtesy The Computer History Center

In 1973, a French inventor, Truong Trong Thi, began marketing his Micral microcomputer, the first commercially available system most people today would recognize as a complete personal computer.

Based on the new Intel 8008 chip, an 8-bit CPU running at the then-astonishing speed of 200 kiloHerz, or roughly 1/5000th the speed of a 1 gigaHerz Pentium III, the Micral featured a separate console holding the CPU and memory, while users could add a keyboard, monitor, hard drive and 8-inch floppy disk drive (invented by IBM two years earlier). For $1,750, it came with 256 bytes of RAM, expandable to 1 kilobyte. Truong was unable to find financial backers, never really found an audience for his computer, and by 1979 had sold his company.

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Copyright 2002 Computer Museum of America