In 1957, American engineer Kenneth Harry Olsen, with colleague Harlan Anderson, co-founded Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), with a venture capital provided by Georges Doriot’s American Research and Development Corporation. DEC was a pioneering American company in the computer industry with the products Programmed Data Processor (PDP) and Virtual Address eXtension (VAX) as its most popular minicomputers for the scientific and engineering industries during the 1970s and 1980s. DEC built small digital “modules” that ran engineering and scientific experiments.
In June 1998, Compaq acquired DEC and eventually merged with Hewlett-Packard in May 2002.
He encouraged innovations in the field of engineering, and he valued technical excellence. In fact, the innovator even developed an engineering matrix management that is presently being used by many industries.
Ken Olsen was named by Fortune Magazine as “America’s most successful entrepreneur” in 1986 and a biography of him entitled, “The Ultimate Entrepreneur: The Story of Ken Olsen and Digital Equipment Corporation,” came out in 1988. Glenn Rifkin and George Harrar wrote the book.
In 1992, Ken Olsen left DEC. He shortly became the chairman of Advanced Modular Solutions.
Ken Olsen became a trustee of the Gordon College in Massachusetts where its science center was named after him in 2006. The said center has a lobby that features the Digital Equipment Corporation Loggia of Technology, a lobby that has a record of DEC’s technology and history.
Prior to DEC, Olsen worked at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory with Anderson on the TX-2 computer, a transistor-based computer using the then massive amount of 64K 36-bit words of memory.
Olsen has Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from MIT. He constantly gave donations to The Family, a secretive, political Christian organization.
Olsen was born on February 20, 1926 in Stratford, Connecticut.