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Comments, Queries, and Debate: Was the First Microcomputer Built in France?

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129562D
Original Publication Date: 1988-Mar-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 1 page(s) / 12K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

IEEE Computer Society: OWNER

Abstract

Comments, Queries, and Debate: Was the First Microcomputer Built in France?

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1988 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Comments, Queries, and Debate: Was the First Microcomputer Built in France?

Richard L. Hudson of the Wall Street Journal reported in the paper's 18 September 1985 edition that the first microcomputer marketed was the "Micra!" built by Troung Trong Thi's company Realisations Etudes Electroniques S.A., also known as R2E. Troung shipped the initial production machine on 15 January 1973, about two years prior to the Altair, currently considered the first commercially available microcomputer. R2E got into the computer business by trying to deliver an environment control system for France's agricultural research laboratory. By adapting an Intel chip originally intended for calculator use, R2E's Francois Gernelle designed a small machine with a lot of I/O channels as a controller. Early versions had to be programmed in binary using paper tape or switches, and sold for $1900. Within months, an expanded memory, keyboard, and video display unit became available. Disappointing sales led the company to file for bankruptcy in late 1975, and it was sold to what is now Cie. des Machines Bull in 1978.

We would like to hear from any readers who may have seen or used a Micral, and who would like to comment on whether it should be considered as a fully functional antecedent to the Altair.

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