I’ve often felt that the history of computing would make a fascinating topic for the TV – the impact of its short life so far can’t be underestimated yet many people have no idea who the pioneers are who made it all possible. One of two name have entered public consciousness, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but so many remain the heroes of the geeks alone.
One of those heroes was Ken Olsen who died this week; the founder of DEC, a company whose legacy is far greater than their commercial success.
The PDP mini-computers he created were the tools of choice for innovators in the 60’s and 70’s. Unix and C were created on PDPs, and the ARPAnet and internet formed around them; you can still see them in action at the Bletchley Park Museum of Computing running air traffic control and, if you’re lucky, chess on a line-printer terminal.
More than 30 years ago he was one of the first to see the potential of Ethernet, initially called DIX Ethernet for Digital (DEC), Intel and Xerox – as we face the shift to NGA broadband, its worth remembering the vision and determination of people like Ken Olsen who made it possible.