PC inventor goes offline

The man who gave the world the PC and whose work created Microsoft has died.

Ed Roberts, whose early Altair 8800 computer inspired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to start Microsoft, was 68.

The Altair was the first real PC. Roberts established Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) in 1975.

It was the article on the Altair in the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics which fired the imagination of Allen, who showed it to Gates.

Gates and Allen quickly reached out to Roberts who was looking to create software for the Altair. As a result the pair formed Microsoft.

Roberts himself was less interested in computing. He flogged his company, went to medical school and became a doctor in Georgia.

In a joint statement posted on the Gates Notes Web site, Gates and Allen paid tribute to Roberts.

“Ed was truly a pioneer in the personal computer revolution, and didn’t always get the recognition he deserved,” the Microsoft founders said in a statement. “He was an intense man with a great sense of humor, and he always cared deeply about the people who worked for him, including us.”

Allen said that Roberts was a mentor, and not just on the computing side.

Gates apparently even went to Roberts’ death bed last week.

The statement said that 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.