Saturday, April 3, 2010

The passing of a notable computer scientist

Dr. Roberts's machine

A potentially quite significant historical figure passed away quietly last week in Macon, Georgia. Dr. H. Edward Roberts was an inventor that Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen held in high regard. He was their boss and their inspiration. Many credit Dr. Roberts as the creator of the first personal computer. He had long shunned the spotlight. He left the computer industry in 1977, moved from New Mexico to Georgia, and over time became a country doctor, a general practitioner in a little town called Cochran.

Gates and Allen issued a joint statement saying that they were saddened by the death of their "friend and early mentor." Gates and Allen both followed Roberts to Albuquerque; Gates dropping out of Harvard and Allen leaving his job at Honeywell. Roberts' personal computer, the MITS Altair, appeared on the January 1975 cover of Popular Electronics. Gates and Allen wrote Microsoft Basic to run on this machine. The rest as they say is history.

Read the whole New York Times Obituary here.

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