The Micral N has marked the history of computing with a hot iron and therefore occupies a special place in the hearts of enthusiasts and collectors. Designed in the mid-1970s, this computer is indeed often considered the ancestor of our PCs. The first model of our history will be offered at auction next month near Tours.
The Micral refers to the range of computers developed by the R2E design office in the 1970s. The first models were manufactured in 1972 at the request of INRA in order to develop a measurement and calculation system. evapotranspiration * from soils.
These machines were very sophisticated for the time and they were thus based on microprocessors, which allowed them to benefit from reduced dimensions.
The Micral N, a computer like no other
The Micral N was the very first computer manufactured by the company and it was developed by François Gernelle in a cellar in Châtenay-Malabry. The engineer had opted for an 8-bit Intel 8008 microprocessor to power it. The chip was clocked at 500 kHz and it was accompanied by several memory cards, for a total of 2 kb of RAM.
This machine had another interesting feature. In fact, it carried a card provided with eleven or twenty-two connectors and it could therefore accommodate additional electronic cards.
Thanks to this ingenious system, users could therefore customize the operation of their machine and expand its capabilities without having to take out their soldering iron. This architecture was quite simply revolutionary at the time and it greatly contributed to the success of this computer, especially since it was offered at a fairly low price for the time. It actually cost around 8,000 francs.
The Micral N therefore had good years, but unfortunately everything changed at the end of the 70s. R2E was indeed bought by another giant of the sector, CII Honeywell-Bull, and the latter preferred to focus on the segment. of the company even if it means abandoning personal computing.
An auction will take place next month
However, there are still a few models in circulation. Some of them are exhibited at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris, others at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Several private collectors have kept some on their side and one of them has decided to put his copy up for auction, in a sale scheduled for next month at the Château d'Artigny near Tours.
This exceptional sale is likely to attract many collectors, for a fairly simple reason: there are only five known examples of this machine. As a result, it will be in your interest to have a well-stocked portfolio since the starting bet will start at € 20,000.
* Evapotranspiration refers to the quantity of water transferred to the atmosphere by evaporation located at soil level and plant transpiration.