Computers

Raspberry Pi Helps Forgotten Home Computer Rise From The Grave

Who remembers the Sol-20? Us neither, but it was an important milestone on the path to where we, and our computers, are today. Without the Sol-20 the home computer world would be very different. This important point in home computer history is an excellent choice, then, for a retro computer reproduction project such as that carried out by Michael Gardi (and highlighted by Hackaday) using a Raspberry Pi in place of the Intel 8080 at the original computer’s heart.

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The Sol-20 rebuild

(Image credit: Michael Gardi)
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The Sol-20 rebuild

(Image credit: Michael Gardi)
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The Sol-20 rebuild

(Image credit: Michael Gardi)
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The Sol-20 rebuild

(Image credit: Michael Gardi)
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The Sol-20 rebuild

(Image credit: Michael Gardi)

The first fully assembled microcomputer with both a built-in keyboard and a TV output, the Sol-20 had the misfortune to be released in 1976, a year before Apple, Commodore and Tandy came and stomped all over the market with the Apple II, Pet and TRS-80. Initially sold in three versions – a motherboard kit; the Sol-10 added a case, keyboard and power supply, but came with no expansion slots; and the Sol-20 beefed up that power supply and added five S-100 bus slots (the Sol-20 would be by far the most popular model). The computer stayed in production until 1979 and would sell around 12,000 units, making them incredibly rare today. For contrast, total Apple II sales would hit around six million, including a million in 1983 alone.


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