Cringely reports here about the passing of Ed Roberts who designed the Altair 8800.
This was the first micro computer I owned and tried to make work. I bought the MiTS Altair kit when I lived in Chicago, soldered it together and before I'd finished trouble shooting it I'd left Chicago for Burbank. I sold the not yet working machine to an engineer I knew would be able to make it work.
My Altair had a lot of memory for the time, an S100 board with 16K that cost over $700.
The Altair 8800 was the first microcomputer Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote commercial software for. They created Altair-Basic which became the basis for Microsoft.
Besides Microsoft, this was the same machine that gave the start to companies like Peachtree Software in Atlanta who built the first microcomputer accounting system for the Altair - written in Basic.
We've come a long way from the first commercially successful microcomputer to the iPad. It is sobering to realize that the $700 I spent back then for 16K of memory alone can now buy a 64GB iPad.
We owe a lot to pioneers like Ed Roberts.