RIP H. Edward Roberts, PC Pioneer

  • News
  • Thread starter Astronuc
  • Start date
  • #1
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,798
1,946

Main Question or Discussion Point

H. Edward Roberts, PC Pioneer, Dies at 68
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/03/business/03roberts.html

As Dr. Roberts lay dying last week in a hospital in Macon, Ga., suffering from pneumonia, Mr. Gates flew down to be at his bedside.

Mr. Gates knew what many had forgotten: that Dr. Roberts had made an early and enduring contribution to modern computing. He created the MITS Altair, the first inexpensive general-purpose microcomputer, a device that could be programmed to do all manner of tasks. For that achievement, some historians say Dr. Roberts deserves to be recognized as the inventor of the personal computer.

For Mr. Gates, the connection to Dr. Roberts was also personal. It was writing software for the MITS Altair that gave Mr. Gates, a student at Harvard at the time, and his Microsoft partner, Paul G. Allen, their start. Later, they moved to Albuquerque, where Dr. Roberts had set up shop.
. . . .
When the Altair was introduced in the mid-1970s, personal computers — then called microcomputers — were mainly intriguing electronic gadgets for hobbyists, the sort of people who tinkered with ham radio kits.
. . . .
I remember some of the first PCs, like the Altair, and Tandy's version, Commodore-64, and the first IBM PC (based on an 8086 processor). I bought my first PC in 1985 and added an 8087 math co-processor to increase speed of calculations.
 
Last edited:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
918
16
H. Edward Roberts, PC Pioneer, Dies at 68
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/03/business/03roberts.html

I remember some of the first PCs, like the Altair, and Tandy's version, Commodore-64, and the first IBM PC (based on an 8086 processor). I bought my first PC in 1985 and added an 8087 math co-processor to increase speed of calculations.
I worked for Commodore in the early 80's. Before the Commodore-64 was the Vic-20 and before that the PET. The first computer I bought was an Atari 800. With 48 Kilobytes (for the younguns, a Kilobyte is like a Gigabyte, only smaller) of memory, a floppy disk drive (like a memory stick, only electro-mechanical) holding 88 Kilobyes, and a dot matrix printer (like a laser printer that prints 9 dots at a time) it came to around $3000. It launched my career as a software engineer and in that way paid for itself many times over.
 
Last edited:
  • #3
rhody
Gold Member
630
3
Even though Gates and Roberts clashed and were estranged for most of their lives, Gates care and concern as Roberts was dying was touching. A real class act...
In Albuquerque, Dr. Roberts, a burly, 6-foot-4 former Air Force officer, often clashed with Mr. Gates, the skinny college dropout. Mr. Gates was “a very bright kid, but he was a constant headache at MITS,” Dr. Roberts said in an interview with The New York Times at his office in 2001.

“You couldn’t reason with him,” he added. “He did things his way or not at all.”

His former MITS colleagues recalled that Dr. Roberts could be hardheaded as well. “Unlike the rest of us, Bill never backed down from Ed Roberts face to face,” David Bunnell, a former MITS employee, said in 2001. “When they disagreed, sparks flew.”
and
On his Web site, Mr. Gates and Mr. Allen posted a joint statement, saying they were saddened by the death of “our friend and early mentor.”

“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,” the statement said.
Rhody...
 

Related Threads on RIP H. Edward Roberts, PC Pioneer

  • Last Post
Replies
13
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
561
  • Last Post
Replies
24
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
356
  • Last Post
Replies
13
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
5K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
35
Views
9K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
Top