Professor Henry Edward Roberts – “Father” of the first personal computer


Professor Henry Edward Roberts, the father of personal computers, has set a milestone in Microsoft’s career and co-founders – Bill Gates and Paul Allen – died on January 1. April, 2010, at the age of 68.

Professor Henry Edward Roberts invented the Altair 8800, the machine that marks the beginning of the personal computer era. Two Microsoft co-founders, Gates and Allen, contacted Professor Roberts after seeing the image of the machine on the magazine cover, and offered to write a software product for the Altair 8800.

Software called Altair-Basic, considered the first foundation to build the “empire” Microsoft.

Professor Henry Edward Roberts

“Ed brought us the opportunity, two young people who are passionate about computers, and we are always grateful for that,” said Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. “On the first day, the software we run on Altair is the start of the great things.”

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak also said that Professor Roberts has “made an important step to lead us all today.”

Professor Henry Edward Roberts died at a hospital on April 1, after a long struggle with pneumonia.

Today, it is hard to imagine that the Altair 8800 is the first PC. The machine has no keyboard, screen and data loss when you turn it off. But when Altair was advertised in the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics, a large audience quickly realized that they could adapt to the needs of their device. The Intel 8080 processor can identify more memory than the previous version and also allow for more sub-processes. Altair has also provided an “open bandwidth” enabled for users to connect to storage, video display and other devices.

The first PC in the world?

The end of the Altair story is well known. Although critics have commented on the BASIC programming language as a “toy language” as it created a bad programming behavior (thanks to the GOTO command), Roberts chose BASIC because of its simplicity. . Two students at the Harvard Computing Center wrote a version of BASIC on the PDP-10, using the writing technique for the Intel 8080.

One of them is William Gates, who later founded Microsoft to create software for the Altair revolution. This included a version of BASIC for a better machine, which was soon applied to Apple I.

IBM’s involvement

Finally, IBM has also entered the computer market boom. The company’s personal computer was launched in 1981, and IBM quickly dispelled the notion that large-size discourages innovation. IBM computers can be purchased with their very fast word-processing and spreadsheet software, Lotus 1-2-3.

“The combination of IBM and Lotus 1-2-3 computers has helped IBM surpass Apple in terms of sales and dispelled any doubts about IBM being a big competitor in the mainframe market. mainframe and mini computer, “Cerruzi commented.

But let’s go back to the original question: Who invented the computer? The answer is Ed Roberts but it could be many others. In a way, the people who “play” Spacewar and developers have created a time sharing system that gave birth to the PC market. Computers were driven by consumers in the era of pocket PCs in the 1970s, Intel processors have also done the same thing.

And when Roberts built the Altair 8800, it was proven by users. Software and hardware developers have expanded the capabilities of the machine.

In any case, if you make BernieMeyerson’s comment literally, he’s right. After all, IBM invented the IBM computer. But there should be a closer look at his remarks. “We”, that is all who have been involved in the invention of personal computers. PC is really “a remarkable breakthrough, not about chips or anything else but it is a complete integration.”