Kenneth H. Olsen

Computer Industry Pioneer and Visionary

Born: February 20, 1926 — Died: February 6, 2011

Co-founder and long-time CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation

Ken Olsen photo Ken Olsen
Ken Olsen entered the computer industry at a time when mainframe computers dominated the data centers. With a vision of making computers more directly accessible to their users, he set out with funding of $70,000 to form Digital Equipment Corporation. Through decades of hard work and innovation, the company created a brand new style of computing – minicomputers – that no longer sat in a locked data center, but were available more directly to their users in labs, schools, and businesses. A generation of computer users were very familiar with Digital's line of PDP-8 and PDP-11 microcomputers. This trend eventually led to the development of microcomputers, of which the current day personal computers are now available in virtually every home. His engineering skills inspired and fostered a generation of computer engineers. He was also a generous donor to several institutions, most notably the Boston Computer Museum and Gordon College, and awarded by many organizations for his achievements and accomplishments.
Timeline of Major Life Events
1926 - Born in Stratford, Connecticut, on February 20
1944 - Entered the Navy
1950 - Graduated from MIT with a B.S. in electrical engineering
1952 - Awarded an M.A. in electrical engineering by MIT
1957 - Co-founded Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC)
1979 - Co-founded Boston's Computer Museum
1990 - Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame
1992 - Retired from his position as President of DEC

Ken Olsen was a humble man with great talents, and one of his mottos was "substance over style." This showed in many ways as he went through life. A company founder who truly cared for his employees, his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of many who worked for this giant of the computer industry.

For further information, please investigate the following links
Wikipedia article about Mr. Olsen
Wikipedia article about Digital Equipment Corporation
Gordon College obituary and tribute to Mr. Olsen
New York Times obituary for Mr. Olsen
Short video about Ken Olsen and Digital Equipment Corporation