Wargames IMSAI 8080 for sale at Christie's
On November 23, Christie's of London will be selling a unique piece of computing and film history in their Pop Culture: Film & Entertainment Memorabilia sale. The IMSAI 8080, that was used in the film Wargames, is up for sale, along with all it's associated props and provenance. The computer and associated hardware have remained in the possession of the original makers and owners Fischer-Freitas (whose site still says tentatively that the sale is on Nov 24).
The IMSAI 8080 was a computer sold in kit form and based on the 8080 CPU, Intel's second 8-bit CPU. Capable of executing instructions at a whopping speed of 3.1 MHz for the fastest model, this processor could also access 64 KB of RAM, a 4-fold increase on the model it replaced, the 8008, which could only access 16 KB. The popularity of this processor can be seen in the fact that Zilog based the Z80 processor on it, and that was used in a wide range of home computer and other electronic equipment, and has had a lot of processor families based on it.
This iconic piece of computer and film history is currently valued at over $25,000, and as such is one of the most expensive personal computer you will ever see. Widely considered to be one of the top 5 movie computers of all time, it is the only one which was a real, commercial product. It would make a perfect addition to any collection of vintage computers or film memorabilia.
Fischer Freitas Company formed in 1978 as an independent service organization to IMSAI computer products and other computer products, and in 1979 they acquired the rights and equipment to continue production of the legendary IMSAI line of computer products.
In 1982 the company were approached and asked if they could provide an IMSAI 8080 computer and other props to be used in the film Wargames. The equipment supplied included a high-speed (1200 baud!) data link, although for visual effect an acoustic coupler was used, at a blazing 300 baud! To load software, an 8 inch floppy drive was included, this being one of the few equipment close-ups used in the film. A 17 inch monitor was used, as it could be read from a distance and was suitable for filming.
More information and a full provenance of the equipment, along with a lot of other relevant information can be found on imsai.net.
A year ago we reported on an Apple 1 that was sold by Christie's for $212,267. A collector in the CPU-World forums used to own that computer and has given some additional history. Unlike the Apple 1 computer, the Wargames IMSAI computer is a one of a kind and will appeal to a wider audience. As such, it is a far more important sale and has the potential to sell for a much higher price.