Honoring the Father of the PC

PopSci - Henry Edward Roberts's Altair 8800 started the era of home computing, and inspired a young tinkerer named Bill Gates to write software

Roberts died on April 1 of pneumonia at the age of 68.

The Altair 8800 represented a $395 DIY kit for early computer geeks in 1975, or about $1557.56 in 2009 dollars. The switch-operated machine contained no display and used the Intel 8080 microprocessor.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen might stand astride the world, but they both paid homage last night to the passing of the man who booted up their careers. The Microsoft founders got their start in the computer biz writing software for the Altair 8800, a forerunner of home computing first created by Henry Edward Roberts, BBC reports.

"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," Gates and Allen said in their joint statement on Thursday.