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Ed Roberts
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Computer Tech
    (September 13, 1941-April 1, 2010)
    Born in Miami, Florida
    Birth name was Henry Edward Roberts
    Founded MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems; 1970)
    Developed the Altair 8800 personal computer (1974)
    Hired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to adapt BASIC for the Altair
    Sold MITS for $6 million (1977)
    He formed MITS planning to sell electronics to model rocket hobbyists, but had his first success with electronic calculators.
    A price war with Texas Instruments left MITS with massive debts (1974).
    Sales of the Altair 8800 took off thanks to a cover story in 'Popular Electronics' (January, 1975). The computer shown on the cover was actually an empty box and the final product had a completely different circuit board layout than was described in the article.
    He said that Gates was 'a very bright kid, but a constant headache.'
    He clashed with Gates and Allen over ownership of the BASIC program they developed.
    He was married three times, divorced twice.
    He joined the Air Force to pay for college.
    He said that working on a room-sized IBM computer at Oklahoma State 'opened up a whole new world. And I began thinking, What if you gave everyone a computer?'
    Thanks to the success of the Altair, he is considered the father of the personal computer.
    Gates and Allen noted, 'Ed was willing to take a chance on us and we have always been grateful to him.'
    After selling MITS, he returned to a childhood dream of becoming a doctor, went to med school, and became a general practitioner in the small town of Cochran, Georgia.
    He used light-emitting diodes to make a Star Wars-style light saber for a neighbor's son. (You now wish you lived next to him growing up. Admit it.)

Credit: C. Fishel


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