Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ken Olsen, R.I.P.

Ken was truly an enigmatic figure wandering the halls and meetings at Digital.  How could that guy driving the Ford sedan and wearing the boring suit be such a pioneer and such a leader in the digital world!?  His obituary includes a reference to "... hired smart people..." (I snuck in) and it was true.  I was surrounded by hard working innovative people who in almost every case were as equally invested in my work as they were in their own work.  It was the "He who proposes does." culture, where if you had an idea, you could run with it.  I was spoiled to being around people like that.  I developed several life long friendships there, and I developed some personal and professional patterns that continue to serve me well (if to only frustrate me at times.)

Yes, Ken was openly skeptical of personal computing.  (I used a personal Macintosh in some of my work as did many around me.)  It's also true that he maintained a world class reference library system with connections to collegiate and private libraries.  We also had the Technical Seminar Series in Engineering where we brought in researchers and developers from all aspects of computing and from around the world.  It was  a job I never regretted going to every day.



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