Ed Roberts, whose early Altair 8800 computer helped inspire Bill Gates and Paul Allen to start Microsoft, died Thursday. He was 68.
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 Allen, who showed the story to Gates.
Gates and Allen quickly reached out to Roberts, looking to create software for the Altair. Landing a meeting, the pair headed to Albuquerque, N.M., where Roberts' company was located. The two went on to set up Microsoft, which had its first offices in Albuquerque.