Deep down we hoped that it was just a sick April Fools' Day joke, but unfortunately Dr Henry Edward Roberts, a brilliant man who inspired the co-founders of Microsoft with his early PC development work, has passed away.
Roberts was a military man, a farmer, a physician and "often credited with kickstarting the modern computer". His death was met with much sadness and this joint statement from Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen:
We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and early mentor, Ed Roberts, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Ed was truly a pioneer in the personal computer revolution, and didn't always get the recognition he deserved. He was an intense man with a great sense of humor, and he always cared deeply about the people who worked for him, including us. 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 day our first untested software worked on his Altair was the start of a lot of great things. We will always have many fond memories of working with Ed in Albuquerque, in the MITS office right on Route 66 – where so many exciting things happened that none of us could have imagined back then.
More than anything, what we will always remember about Ed was how deeply compassionate he was – and that was never more true than when he decided to spend the second half of his life going to medical school and working as a country doctor making house calls. He will be missed by many and we were lucky to have known him.