Sad news – Martin Elliott and Ed Roberts pass away

Two people died this week, neither of whom I'd heard of previously but as it turns out had a real impact on my - and probably millions of other - lives.

Martin Elliott, who took one of the most iconic photographs of my lifetime died. This one.

It appeared (on many bedroom walls) while I was at university and had a very profound impact on how I looked at life, or at least girls playing tennis..

Dr Henry Edward Roberts was the inventor of the Altair 8800, a machine that sparked the home computer era.  He employed Bill Gates and Paul Allen before they founded Microsoft; I hope they slipped him a few shares when they got going.  If you look at the pictures of his machines it all seems like the dark ages; yet it was only 35 years ago that we had no PCs, and only 15 years since widespread use of the Internet developed.  And I loved this from Wikipedia;

Programming the Altair was an extremely tedious process. The user toggled the switches to positions corresponding to an 8080 microprocessor instruction or opcode in binary, then used an 'enter' switch to load the code into the machine's memory, and then repeated this step until all the opcodes of a presumably complete and correct program were in place. When the machine first shipped the switches and lights were the only interface, and all one could do with the machine was make programs to make the lights blink.

And in a very real way, y'know,  isn't that what many of us still spend our lives doing?  Aren't we just "....toggling make the lights blink".  Happy Easter.

(Copyright Thought for the Day, the Rev. Peter Smith  )

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