Saturday, 3 April 2010

MITS Altair designer dies

The heading may not mean anything, but Henry Roberts was the man who built the platform from which Microsoft was launched. The Altair was one of a number of home computer designs which formed a bridge between the bare circuit boards of the home computer clubs and "Practical Electronics" wonks, and the first consumer products, like the Commodore Pet. You had to add your own peripherals, like a screen, a storage device - usually a floppy disk drive - or a modem to connect you to the pre-Web Internet, but otherwise, it was a built computer which worked out of the box.

It is gratifying to learn that Roberts, while enjoying his position in computer history, after years of medical studies ended as a general practitioner in Georgia.

"As for every other new advance in computer electronics that surfaces almost daily, there was always a part of Roberts that remained engaged and fascinated, according to his son. 'He did think it was pretty neat, some of the stuff they're doing with the processors.' And the iPad? 'He was interested to see one.'"

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