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A Belated 'Thank You' To Ed Roberts

I don’t often write about people who have died that aren’t related to me. I think the last such person I wrote about was Les Paul. But a man died on April 1, 2010 that I thought I should mention, if for no other reason than to show my respect and appreciation to an individual whose contributions to popular culture are significant.
Ed Roberts is most widely known for creating the Altair 8800, an early computer that helped inspire Bill Gates and Paul Allen to start Microsoft. Without that innovation, much of what came later may well not have happened. Our world would be vastly different without Ed Roberts. Though Roberts’ name is less well known than some other computing pioneers, the Altair is widely credited as the first personal computer and for helping inspire the modern computer industry.
Roberts established Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), which introduced the Altair in 1975. An article on the Altair in the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics caught the eye of a young Paul Allen, who showed the story to Bill Gates.
Gates and Allen quickly reached out to Roberts, looking to create software for the Altair. Landing a meeting, the pair headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Roberts’ company was located. The two went on to set up Microsoft, which had its first offices in Albuquerque.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and early mentor, Ed Roberts, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” Bill Gates and Paul Allen said in a joint statement released on Thursday night.
“Ed was truly a pioneer in the personal computer revolution, and didn’t always get the recognition he deserved. 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. 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 day our first untested software worked on his Altair was the start of a lot of great things.”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told CNET he was saddened to learn of Roberts’ death.
“He took a critically important step that led to everything we have today,” Wozniak said in an e-mail.
Though his impact on the industry was long lasting, Roberts left computing in the 1970s, selling MITS, going to medical school, and then setting up a medical practice in Georgia. He died Thursday at the age of 68.
As I check my e-mail today, and post pointless status updates on Facebook, and go over songs using software based amplifiers and mult0

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