RIP, Ken Olsen, DEC Founder

Take a look at this NY Times  writeup on Ken Olsen, one of the founders of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Through DEC, Ken Olsen, who died Sunday, had a huge influence on early computing, particularly with the PDP-11s. I have fond memories of DEC machines. I learnt a lot of my early computing on a 36-bit word DEC10 in a bunch of languages — Pascal, SIMULA, BLISS, SAIL…. I still remember the huge 256K disk cylinders on the machine, the clackety-clack of the ASR33 consoles attached to it. DEC missed on out on the PC revolution, and faded into the background, but still leaves behind a legacy.

One paragraph in the NYT article caught my eye:

In Digital’s often confusing management structure, Mr. Olsen was the dominant figure who hired smart people, gave them responsibility and expected them “to perform as adults,” said Edgar Schein, who taught organizational behavior at M.I.T. and consulted with Mr. Olsen for 25 years. “Lo and behold,” he said, “they performed magnificently.”

Truly: trust in people, and they will deliver.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Olsen.


About Chandra

Interested in people, language, ideas, technology and their interactions.
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