H. Edward Roberts, PC Pioneer, Dies at 68
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.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.
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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.
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