Dr. Henry Edward Roberts with Altair 8800 computer in Cochran, Ga. Roberts, the developer of an early personal computer that inspired Bill Gates to found Microsoft. Pic credit AP.
Ed Roberts, whose early MITS Altair 8800 computer -- pictured on the cover of Popular Electronics -- inspired the young software programmers to create the early version of BASIC that ultimately spawned the company. Apart from Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Roberts was one of the people most instrumental in the creation of Microsoft. Roberts died in Georgia on April 1st at age of 68. A joint statement being issued by Microsoft co-founders: "We're deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and early mentor, Ed Roberts, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.?? Roberts founded Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, which sold the kits. A young Gates and Allen would later found their fledgling Microsoft firm in Albuquerque, N.M., where MITS was based, and provide a computer language that helped hobbyists program and operate the Altair. The men would eventually feud after Gates and Allen began selling versions of BASIC — or Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code — created for Altair to competitors, according to the 2003 book, "Leaders of the Information Age."