The New York Times notes the passing of an important man:
Mr. Gates knew what many had forgotten: that Dr. Roberts had made an early and enduring contribution to modern computing. He created the MITS Altair, the first inexpensive general-purpose microcomputer, a device that could be programmed to do all manner of tasks. For that achievement, some historians say Dr. Roberts deserves to be recognized as the inventor of the personal computer.
For Mr. Gates, the connection to Dr. Roberts was also personal. It was writing software for the MITS Altair that gave Mr. Gates, a student at Harvard at the time, and his Microsoft partner, Paul G. Allen, their start. Later, they moved to Albuquerque, where Dr. Roberts had set up shop.
Dr. Roberts died Thursday at the Medical Center of Middle Georgia, his son Martin said. He was 68.
When the Altair was introduced in the mid-1970s, personal computers — then called microcomputers — were mainly intriguing electronic gadgets for hobbyists, the sort of people who tinkered with ham radio kits.
Dr. Roberts, it seems, was a classic hobbyist entrepreneur. He left his mark on computing, built a nice little business, sold it and moved on — well before personal computers moved into the mainstream of business and society…
(hat tip Movie Guy)