Remembering DEC and Ken Olsen

Computing pioneer Ken Olsen, who founded the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1957, has passed away at the age of 84.

Olsen – who was named “America’s most successful entrepreneur” by Fortune magazine in 1986 – created DEC with only $70,000 in seed money.

At its height, DEC employed more than 120,000 people in more than 95 countries.

During the late 1980’s, Digital boasted $14 billion in sales and ranked among the most profitable corporations in the nation.

However, the company began to decline in the early 90’s, as Olsen was reluctant to embrace the nascent PC market, predicting that the “personal computer [would] fall flat on its face in business.”

Olsen was forced to resign by the DEC board in July 1992, and the company was subsequently acquired by Compaq in 1998 for a tidy $9.6 billion.

Nevertheless, Olsen is still considered quite an influential figure in the digital world, with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates calling him “one of the true pioneers in computing.”

(Via New York Times)