DEC founder Kenneth Olsen mourned by computer industry

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

Network World, 2/7/11

Kenneth Olsen, the computer industry pioneer who co-founded and led minicomputer king Digital Equipment Corp. for 35 years, died at the age of 84 on Sunday in Indianapolis.

As DEC’s leader, Olsen oversaw the company’s epic battles vs. IBM and its mainframes for the hearts and business of IT shops – a fight DEC eventually lost as the era of fast, cheap and networked PCs took hold in the 1980s and 1990s. During its heyday, DEC was the second largest computer company in the world with $14 billion in sales and its PDPs, VAXes and DECnet network technology became staples in many organizations.

Today’s IT industry remains filled with companies whose founders once worked at DEC or with its gear. Digital was acquired in 1998 by Compaq for $9.6 billion.

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