Ken Olsen, founder of DEC: RIP — A personal reflection

Unless you’re an old geek (graybeard) like me, this news might have escaped your notice:  Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (or DEC to all of us who knew and loved it), passed away this last Sunday, Feb. 6th, 2011, at age 84.  Obits, bios and history here:

Ken Olsen obituary (The Guardian, Wed. 9 February 2011)
Ken Olsen, Who Built DEC into a Power, dies at 84 (NYTimes, Mon. 7 February 2011)
Ken Olsen, co-founder of DEC, died at 84 (Mass High Tech, Mon. 7 February 2011)
Wikipedia article: Ken Olsen Wikipedia article: Digital Equipment Corporation

Some of the younger technology-loving folks may not recognize his name at all — that’s a shame, because he founded, guided and drove the second wave or generation of computing, inventing the inevitable evolution from mainframes to minicomputers, which defined and led to where we are now.  Linux, Android, Unix, Mac and yes, even Windows, are all beholden to Olsen’s legacy and pioneering in that grand old company called DEC.  He certainly ranks in the pantheon of the great leaders, inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs of the industry that began with IBM’s Watsons (father and son, Thomas J. and Thomas J. Jr.), and continues with Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft), Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple), and Linus Torvalds (Linux).   Continue reading

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