Sad news on this Good Friday I'm afraid folks, Dr. Ed Roberts - dubbed the "father of the personal computer" - passed away yesterday at the age of 68 after a long battle with pneumonia.
Robert's title came from his creation of the Altair 8800 in 1974, which was built on Intel's famous 8080 processor. With a launch price of $395 (circa $1,000 in today's money) it shattered price barriers and was featured on the front cover of influential magazine Popular Electronics.
Roberts then hired two young developers, a certain Bill Gates and Paul Allen, to write Altair BASIC - the computer's programming language which became the first product from a fledgling 'Micro-Soft'. Roberts sold his company - Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) - to disk drive manufacturer Pertec in 1977 for $6m and retired from the electronics industry at just 36 years old. He moved to Georgia where he fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a medical doctor and ran a small practice in tiny Cochran (pop. 4,455) until his death.
"Ed was willing to take a chance on us -- two young guys interested in computers long before they were commonplace -- and we have always been grateful to him..." said Gates and Allen in a statement. "The day our first untested software worked on his Altair was the start of a lot of great things. We will always have many fond memories of working with Ed in Albuquerque, in the MITS office right on Route 66 -- where so many exciting things happened that none of us could have imagined back then."
We salute you Dr Roberts.