Friday, April 02, 2010

Ed Roberts, Inventor of First PC

Altair 8800by Dick Mac

The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics included an article about the Altair 8800 computer. It was the first personal computer. Ed Roberts, founder of MITS (Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems), designed it, but there was no market for the computer and no demand.

Roberts figured he might sell a few hundred a year. Imagine his surprise when 800 were ordered the first month!

Paul Allen showed-up with a computer language called BASIC and was hired on-the-spot. Allen's friend, Harvard student Bill Gates joined the company shortly thereafter.

The rest is sort of history, I guess!

Ed Roberts, M.D.Eventually, Roberts sold his company and found himself out of the technology industry while a non-compete agreement was in effect. He moved to rural Georgia, near his mother's family. Instead of resting on his laurels and spending his money, Roberts became a medical doctor and started a practice.

Born in Miami, FL, in 1941, he attended Oklahoma State University and started his carrer in the miliatry. He was a geek who was interested in computers, calculaters, infrared technology, and other things that were not yet part of mainstream life.

He married in 1962 and had six children. Two other marriages followed.

Dr. Roberts died of pneumonia yesterday, April 1, 2010, at age 68.

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