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A: Châtenay-Malabry, Île-de-France, France

Réalisation d'Études Électroniques (R2E) Markets the Micral N, the Earliest Commercial, Non-Kit Microprocessor-Based Personal Computer

Micral N personal computer

Micral N personal computer

In February 1973 the French company Réalisation d'Études Électroniques (R2E), founded by Paul Magneron and André Truong Trong Thi, offered the Micral N personal computer for sale. The Micral N was the earliest commercial, non-kit personal computer or microcomputer based on a microprocessor, specifically the Intel 8008.

"The software was developed by Benchetrit, with Alain Lacombe and Jean-Claude Beckmann working on the electrical and mechanical aspects. [François] Gernelle invented the Micral N, which was much smaller than existing minicomputers. The January 1974 Users Manual called it "the first of a new generation of mini-computer whose principal feature is its very low cost'....

"The computer was to be delivered in December 1972, and Gernelle, Lacombe, Benchetrit and Beckmann had to work in a cellar in Châtenay-Malabry for 18 hours a day in order to deliver the computer in time. The software, the ROM-based MIC 01 monitor and the ASMIC 01 assembler, was written on an Intertechnique Multi-8 minicomputer using a cross assembler. The computer was based on an Intel 8008 microprocessor clocked at 500 kHz. It had a backplane bus, called the Pluribus with 74-pin connector. 14 boards could be plugged in a Pluribus. With two Pluribus, the Micral N could support up to 24 boards. The computer used MOS memory instead of core memory. The Micral N could support parallel and serial input/output. It had 8 levels of interrupt and a stack. The computer was programmed with punched tape, and used a teleprinter or modem for I/O. The front panel console was optional, offering customers the option of designing their own console to match a particular application. It was delivered to the INRA in January 1973, and commercialized in February 1973 for FF 8,500 (about $1,750) making it a cost-effective replacement for minicomputers which augured the era of the PC" (Wikipedia article on Micral N, accessed 12-02-2013). 

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