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

April 1, 2010 |  2:30 pm

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