News, notes and follow-ups

« Previous Post | Afterword Home | Next Post »

Ed Roberts, developer of MITS Altair 8800 computer, dies at 68


Ed Roberts, an engineer who helped develop a precursor to the modern personal computer, died Thursday in Georgia after several months of battling pneumonia, his son David said. He was 68.

Roberts was best known for developing and marketing the MITS Altair 8800 in the 1970s.

The build-it-yourself kit was operated by switches and had no display screen initially, but it inspired Bill Gates and his childhood friend Paul Allen to found Microsoft in 1975 after they saw an article about the Altair in Popular Mechanics. Gates and Allen founded Microsoft in Albuquerque to be based near MITS' headquarters.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Ed Roberts poses with the Altair 8800 computer in 1997. Credit: Associated Press / Atlanta Journal Constitution, William Berry

Post a comment
If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate.
Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Comments (2)

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I wish I could claim the Popular Mechanics article on the Altair as Microsoft's inspiration--I wrote it--but Gates was already at MITS when I arrived to research the story. The article that inspired Gates and Allen was probably the cover story on the Altair in Popular Electronics, some months earlier. I believe Bill Gates Sr. was the source of this error, in a TV interview.

Ivan Berger,
Fanwood NJ

The Associated Press later sent a correction saying it was Popular Electronics, not Popular Mechanics. The correct magazine was cited in the complete obituary that ran in the print edition and here:,0,3043584.story
Thanks for your comment.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Profiles of military personnel killed in Iraq
and Afghanistan.


Lives in Pictures »

Search Paid Obituaries »

First Name
Last Name
Powered by ©

Yesterday's Obituaries