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Ken Olsen, co-founder of Digital Equipment Corp


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Ken founded DEC in 1957. I worked for the company for almost 20 years before our division (the hard drive group) was sold to Quantum.

 

DEC was the IBM of minicomputers. Ken didn't see the PC happening and the decentralization of compute power from the data center to the desktop, and the company quietly disintegrated in the 90's.

 

It was the opposite of IBM in the way it worked - loosely matrix organized and largely run by engineers.

 

It was a huge company, and in the day in some communities and areas of the country, if you didn't work for DEC, you knew someone who did. Particularly the northeast - MA and NH.

 

I learned a lot there, skills and techniques that I still apply today, and since I possessed a particular talent of "debugging" - troubleshooting complex system problems which may be "yours" or "the other guys", and that is still what I do mostly today. That plus designing storage interfaces - I was one of the small group of people that brought you Serial ATA - that red cable that attaches your hard drive.

 

I also had the chance to meet and work with a group of people that continue to influence the industry today: Gordon Bell (Microsoft), Steve Lipner (Microsoft, who taught me about computer security), Dave Cutler (Microsoft), Nancy Kronenberg (we did the CI stack together on the host and the storage side), Len Kawell (inventor of VAX Notes that later became IBM's Lotus Notes), Richie Lary (who still looks like Seinfeld's Kramer, and encouraged me the most), and the list goes on...

 

Anyway, here's a link to the Boston Globe Obit

 

http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2011/02/08/computer_pioneer_ken_olsen_dies/

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Guest markham51

I was a DEC OEM for many years and sold a ton of their computers. We started out... just as VAX minicomputers were introduced. It was tough sleddiing at first... selling against well established IBM hosted competitors but we eventually were able to dominate our market, in part because we could scale from very small to very large companies without having to change our operating systems or re-write any of our code (VMS/VAX). We eventually rolled up the entire market. I was sorry to see Digital fade into the history books as part of Compaq which itself was eventually absorbed by HP.

 

DEC was an amazing company with good people and a proud hsitory.

 

Thanks Ken. RIP

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When I got my first job in a law office (while still a law student) in 1986 we ran all DEC products, and the first word processing program I used was DEC Word. I remember having to make the transition to Wordperfect when we finally switched from the DEC mainframe (which had its own room) to PC's.

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