This is True®
by Randy Cassingham
Randy Cassingham’s Honorary Unsubscribe Recognizes the Unknown, the Forgotten and the Obscure People who Had an Impact on Our Lives
H. Edward Roberts
An electrical engineer, Roberts got his start building the electronics for a heart-lung machine (his early ambition was to be a doctor). At one of his first jobs, he came face to face with a room-sized IBM computer, which “opened up a whole new world” for him, he said. “And I began thinking, What if you gave everyone a computer?” He turned his skills into making calculator kits, which he sold from his company, MITS, in Albuquerque, N.M. When calculator sales petered out in the early 1970s, Roberts designed the first successful personal computer, the MITS Altair, which he sold as a $439 kit, figuring hobbyists would enjoy doing the actual assembly. The so-called microcomputer was featured on the cover of Popular Electronics in January 1975 (pictured below), inspiring a revolution by nerdy types — like Bill Gates (who quit Harvard and moved to Albuquerque to work with Roberts, since he and buddy Paul Allen had written a BASIC programming language for the Altair. The duo called their new company “Micro-Soft”.)
Many industry historians consider Roberts “the father of the personal computer.” Roberts figured he’d need to sell 200 kits to break even. By May of 1975, MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) had sold 2,500; by August, more than 5,000. By October he had 90 employees. By 1977 Roberts sold the company and walked away from the business, using his millions to go to medical school and become a country doctor, practicing in Cochran, Georgia. When he became ill, Bill Gates flew to be with him. Roberts died in Georgia April 1 from pneumonia. He was 68.
From This is True for 4 April 2010
New: Honorary Unsubscribe Books
The early write-ups from This is True's popular Honorary Unsubscribe feature are now available for your Kindle (or Kindle software for your smartphone, tablet, or computer) as low-cost ebooks. See details on Volume 1 (covering 1998 through 2000), Volume 2 (covering 2001 through 2003), and Volume 3 (covering 2004 through 2006). The honorees truly are the people you wish you had known.
About the HUs
About This is True
to This is True
Copyright 1998-2013 ThisIsTrue.Inc, all rights reserved. May not be copied or archived without express, prior, written permission. "This is True" is a registered trademark of ThisIsTrue.Inc, Ridgway Colorado.