Ed Roberts (1941-2010)
Ed Roberts (1941-2010) image
Ed Roberts grew up in Miami, Florida, where he attended the University of Miami and majored in electrical engineering. He joined the Air Force in 1962, and stayed in the service for 10 years, finding enough time along the way to finish his engineering degree at Oklahoma State University. In 1968 he was working on laser weapons at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he and three friends decided to form a company to build and sell electronics kits. The company, called MITS, was slow to find its feet, and after a couple of years of only meager success, Roberts bought out his partners and began making calculator kits with an engineer named Bill Yates. The new MITS was a success, but within three years the competition was forcing him out of business.

Faced with bankruptcy, Roberts’s instinct was to move ahead. The Intel 8080 microprocessor had just been introduced, and he used it in the prototype of the Altair 8800, the machine credited with starting the personal computer revolution. MITS began selling Altairs in 1975, and the market took off. But success in the fast-changing world of computers brought with it a lot of stress, and Roberts soon grew tired of it. In 1977, he sold MITS to a California company called Pertec for something over $6 million and moved to Georgia to become a doctor.

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Related Links

Solomon’s Memory
Les Solomon remembers the early days of personal computing.

1975: Ancient History
Article by Robert Marsh in Creative Computing, from 1984.

Popular Electronics
Scans of the January 1975 issue, cover and Altair article.

Ed Roberts Interview
1996 interview with Historically Brewed magazine.

The Altair story; early days at MITS
Article by Forrest M. Mims III, in Creative Computing, 1984.

STARTUP Gallery Map, click to view full map
Ed Roberts (1941-2010) is discussed in the It Happened in Albuquerque section of the STARTUP Gallery. Click on the map to explore any section of the gallery.