Ed Roberts, Activist
Dr. William Bronston: Ed Survived Polio – What is Polio?
Dr. William Bronston: He couldn't breathe on his own. What polio did, essentially, was knock out all of his skeletal musculature. So right from the start, when the disease destroyed all of that neuromuscular junction, he needed to have positive pressure breathing.
And in those days, the iron lung essentially created a vacuum that expanded his lungs and allowed him to contract, just by passive, you know, kind of relaxation. Every breath had to be artificially generated, and it was a time when he could handle talking, a conversation, without necessarily having oxygen put into him all the time, air put in to him all the time.
But as he got older, that became less and less effective, and he had to have more and more reliance upon… He always kept in his mouth a tube that was a positive pressure system so every breath, every single sentence was "chhhhh," "blah, blah, blah," "chhhhh," "blah, blah, blah," "chhhhh," [making sound of breathing apparatus] And he lived with that impediment in a sense that he had to make part of his personality.
So Lee grew up in a world, an old world of post polio technology and then lived into this revolutionary new world of miniaturization, digitalization, mobility that fundamentally revolutionized the lives of people that, up to that time, had just been made invisible by the society.