[tech] Y Combinator’s Xerox Alto: restoring the legendary 1970s GUI computer … Fascinating look into the complexities of restoring the first computer with a GUI and major inspiration for the Apple Macintosh. Here’s a page collecting information, blogposts and videos from YouTube on the project: Restoring a Xerox Alto II Extended.
The Alto was introduced in 1973. To understand this time in computer hardware, the primitive 4004 microprocessor had been introduced a couple years earlier. Practical microprocessors such as the 6502 and Z-80 were still a couple years in the future and the Apple II wouldn’t be released until 1977. At the time, minicomputers such as the Data General Nova and PDP-11 built processors out of hundreds of simple but fast TTL integrated circuits, rather than using slow, unreliable MOS chips. The Alto was built similarly, and is a minicomputer, not a microcomputer. The Alto has 13 circuit boards, crammed full of chips. Each board is a bit smaller than a page of paper, about 7-5/16″ by 10″, and holds roughly 100 chips (depending on the board).