I did not realize until reading this NY Times article about H. Edward Roberts, who died recently at the age of 68. He was the creator of the legendary first PC MITS Altair which inspired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to embark on their future in PC software.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen had contacted G Edward Roberts during their Harvard days to write the BASIC language for the Altair. As a matter of fact, both left for New Mexico (Albuquerque) to start their company next to Edward’s company. The article talks about the tumultuous relationship between Edwards and Gates during those early years, both being hard-headed in their ideas.
Edwards sold his company for a pittance and decided to become a doctor. He actually graduated in 1986 and started practicing in Georgia. He was tinkerer and loved inventing new gadgets.
Bill Gates had visited him during his illness recently.
On his Web site, Gates and Allen posted a joint statement, saying they were saddened by the death of “our friend and early mentor.”
“Ed was willing to take a chance on us — two young guys interested in computers long before they were commonplace — and we have always been grateful to him,” the statement said.
Roberts was that rare kind of a person who quietly invents and never sought the limelight. Without his invention, where would the PC business be?