There was a poignant piece of news on Thursday – the death of personal computing pioneer Ed Roberts at age 68. In the mid-1970s, Roberts created the MITS Altair 8800 computer. It was this machine, of course, that caught the attention of two young software dreamers—Bill Gates and Paul Allen – and set in motion a chain of events that has helped create the connected world we live in today. From that hobbyist computer 35 years ago, there are now far more than a billion PCs worldwide, and the PC industry provides millions of jobs around the globe.  And the story of Roberts’ life didn’t end with his contributions to the PC industry. After selling his computer company, he went to medical school and became a doctor in Georgia, touching the lives of thousands of patients.  Bill Gates and Paul Allen shared some thoughts about Roberts on Thursday.

This week’s news only begins to hint at the scope and diversity of the technology revolution that Roberts helped to launch:

  • As more of our lives go online, privacy becomes an even bigger issue. So this past week Microsoft joined with other big technology companies and advocacy groups to push Congress for stronger online privacy laws. As part of the Digital Due Process coalition, we’re asking for stronger controls over how someone’s online data can be accessed, as well as better safeguards for location-based data, such as that collected by wireless telephone companies. We think it’s the right thing to do, and hope Congress takes action.
  • There are increasing signs that the economy is slowly improving, but unemployment remains alarmingly high. Through our Elevate America program, we’re partnering with states to help give people the tools they need to succeed in the workplace – and to secure good jobs as the economy recovers. This past week, Massachusetts and Nevada joined the program, and we’ll be providing 32,750 vouchers that residents of those two states can use to secure technical training. To date, 16 states have signed up to participate in the voucher and certification program.
  • Lastly, amidst all the sleek new car designs unveiled at the New York Auto Show, it was great to see all the interest in the Ford Motor Co.’s partnership with Microsoft. This week Ford and Microsoft described their work to help make the coming wave of all-electric cars more affordable to operate and easier on the power grid. Ford will use Hohm, Microsoft’s energy-management software, to help car owners know when best to recharge an electric car. The new technology may also help power companies better manage new demands on the power grid placed on it by electric cars.

And with that, time to get back to the weekend. See you next week!

Posted by Mark Murray
General Manager, Corporate Public Relations