Dr. Henry Edward Roberts — called by some “the father of the personal computer” — died recently. Roberts was a tinkerer who invented the Altair 8800, a personal computer that could be assembled at home. The build-it-yourself kit sold for $395 and was featured on the front cover of Popular Electronics in 1975. That article was read by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, computer buffs who decided to call Dr. Roberts and offer to write software for the device. They later moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Roberts’ company existed, and formed what was then called “Micro-Soft” to sell the software. The rest, as they say, is history.
The BBC article linked above is interesting in that it features positive comments about Dr. Roberts and his significant impact on the development of the personal computer by Gates and Allen as well as by Steve Wozniak of Apple. If Microsoft and Apple agree on something dealing with computers, it must be significant — and clearly Dr. Roberts and his tinkerer’s device were. As we sit in the comfort of our homes, tapping away at our keyboards and using our personal computers for all manner of things, we should all give a nod to Dr. Henry Edward Roberts and his contribution.