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Right on the cusp of the potential launch of a new era in computing, Dr. Henry Edward Roberts, the inventor of the microcomputer largely credited with kick-starting the PC revolution, has died at the age of 68, BBC News reports.
Dr. Roberts was the original designer of the MITS Altair 8800 kit, the blue box of blinking LEDs and rocker switches that provided a blueprint for designing computers for the home.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Micro-Soft in 1975 by contacting Dr. Roberts and proposing to write a version of BASIC for the machine, which came either as a kit for hobbyists or (at extra cost) fully assembled.
“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,” the Microsoft founders said in a statement.
Popular Electronics featured a non-working Altair on the cover in January 1975 — “non-working” because the only operational prototype was lost in shipping on the way to the magazine to be photographed.
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