Ed Roberts, who died of pneumonia April 1 at 68, has rightfully been described as an architect of the personal-computer revolution. Microsoft was born after Bill Gates and I sold our first piece of software--a version of BASIC--to Ed in 1975. It ran on a small computer built by the gruff former Air Force officer.
As is often the case with major jumps in technology, a bit of serendipity and a bit of bluffing were at play. We told Ed we had software in hand but wrote it only after he invited me to fly to Albuquerque, N.M., to demonstrate it. Ed was the first businessman we got to know well, and his mentoring became important as Microsoft launched and grew.
Ed did a lot of things right in business. He built a quality product--what I think of as the first industrial-grade personal computer--he was willing to take risks, and he was always thinking about what came next. I wasn't surprised that years after he sold his company, Ed entered medical school at 39. Some people might have thought that was too late to start a new career. But I know that until he got sick, Ed was seeing up to 30 patients a day as a country doctor in Cochran, Ga. I'm sure they are all glad he didn't rest on his laurels.
Allen is a co-founder of Microsoft