Wednesday, November 10, 2010

History of the World Part III

History of the World Part I - Douglas Engelbart
History of the World Part II – Ada Lovelace

Today we honor Henry Edward "Ed" Roberts (September 13, 1941 – April 1, 2010), commonly referred to as "the father of the personal computer". He co-founded Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) in Albuquerque in 1969 and served as its president. The company made and sold rocket kits and then calculators, but their true contribution was the Altair 8800 personal computer that used the new Intel 8080 microprocessor. popular-electronics-january-1975It was featured on the cover of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics, and hobbyists flooded MITS with orders for this $397 computer kit. It so inspired Bill Gates and Paul Allen that they moved to Albuquerque and joined MITS to develop software and Altair BASIC, Microsoft's first product. Roberts sold MITS in 1977 and retired to Georgia where he farmed, studied medicine, and eventually became a small-town doctor. He died on April 1, 2010 of pneumonia, but the effect of his contribution to our industry cannot be measured.

He may not have invented the PC, but he surely invented the PC industry.

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