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In Memoriam:  Kenneth H. Olsen

20 Feb 1926 - 6 Feb 2011

 

A public memorial service was held at Gordon College on Saturday, May 14, 2011, and a documentary of Ken Olsen is scheduled for release by the College later in 2011. Friends and former colleagues are encouraged to leave a memory about Olsen on www.gordon.edu/kenolsen.  (Gifts may be made toward the Digital Loggia of Technology museum in the lobby of the Ken Olsen Science Center.)

Here are some remembrances sent in by our members and worldwide readership of our DEC Connection newsletter.   Send your comments to webmaster@decconnection.org to be added.

Francisco D. Fernandez,

Digital Customer,

San Juan,

Puerto Rico, USA

My first visit to DEC impressed me greatly because of two things I observed that I feel is what made DEC a great company:

1- I saw Ken's office at the mill, do I have to say anymore.
2- The pride of the group of workers when the first PDP8 passed military specs.

This led me to eventually buy a DEC 11/70, the first in Puerto Rico.
Pucho

Jack Mileski,

Stow MA USA

DECconnection

Board volunteer

I was very sad to hear about Ken Olsen's death - even though I knew he was ill for quite a while.

Ken was totally unique among any CEO or any other senior executives that I ever knew. Despite the fact that he invented a new industry and ran it for so many years, the testimony to the man was that he was kind hearted, moral man who delegated authority to anyone (including all employees - not only senior executives) and just asked them to "do what's right" and then back it up with "those that propose Do!". He virtually invented matrix management. He trusted in his employees. Yes, we often disagreed (sometimes forcefully) but always respected the ones on the other side of the issue. That was the Digital culture.

Meanwhile, he did not have the ego, selfishness, nor greed that so many of the CEOs have today. By doing so he taught thousands of people that worked for Digital to carry on that noble type of work environment wherever they went after Digital.

In my case, he empowered me to do my best as he did with so many other employees who went on to found new entrepreneurial ventures and improve their lives having the legacy of their employment at Digital.

There will NEVER be another like him!
Jack Mileski

Bill Costello, Pittsburgh PA

USA

DECconnection member

I held various sales & marketing positions in "the field", working out of PTO (Pittsburgh, PA) from '84 to '96. I was recruited to leave by IBM & worked there and for E&Y until I went to work for the USAF after 9/11. The only places that I felt that what I did made a difference was with DEC and for the USAF. The other places were just jobs & I credit Ken for being a true business leader & developing a culture @ DEC that made DEC unique as compared to today's business climate. RIP, Ken!

 

MSgt Bill Costello (GS-11)

Ed LoTurco

Lexington MA, USA

DECconnection member

Being part of the DEC family for 23 years and having the opportunity to say I grew up to become the professional I am is because of the mentoring provided by Ken and the staff he provided to us across DEC nation. What a tribute it is, to his legacy, to see so many people still looking back at the time and years spent working under such an extraordinary teacher and leader. Thank you Ken, as I will never forget my years at DEC.

Lou Greer, Greenville SC, USA

DECconnection member

Ken had a unique management style. He encouraged innovation and even competition within his organization. Early in my DEC career (1982, I think) I was the Networks Manager for the MDC product group, and a customer visit made it clear that we needed an interactive connection between DECnet and IBM's SNA. I was able to drive an effort to raise the funding for the project for various product groups within Digital, and the project moved along at a good pace. Some months later, I received a phone call from Roger Cady, MDC's Group VP. He told me that he was in Ken's office and that Ken had commented that he didn't see the DECnet/SNA Gateway on the May announcement list. I assured Roger that it was alive and well, but it was scheduled for a September announcement. Roger repeated that to Ken, along with my suggestion that if Ken wanted the gateway announced in May, all he had to do was call Dave Rogers, who headed the development team, and say so. Roger held the phone so I could hear Ken's calm response. "Tell Lou that I don't want them to HAVE TO announce the product in May. I want them to WANT TO announce it in May, and that's Lou's job." We got it done, and that experience was a life lesson I will never forget. Ken will live forever through all that he taught us.
Lou

Jerry Neri, USA

DECconnection member

Ken taught many lessons of life that are not discussed at business schools, like "do the right thing" . Ken, you will be missed and you have taught many.

Jerry Bernath, FL, USA

DECconnection member

I had the pleasure of meeting Ken Olsen when in training in May, 1971. I never in my years with Digital forgot those famous words;"do what's right and do the right thing!"

I owe my success to Ken and those words off wisdom that I still embrace in my retirement life.
This words keep him alive in my mind forever.

Jerry Bernath S/v BiBi currently cruising in the Bahamas

Guillermo Fierro, Miami FL USA and Portugal

DECconnection member

We all go through life learning from mentors. Sometimes they are our parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. In my case, Ken was a very strong role model, and a mentor. I acknowledge his legacy and have striven to pay it forward. I do lament his death, but would rather celebrate his life. Thank you Ken! Thank you for creating a nurturing environment at DEC that brought out the best of us, and taught us that knowledge is best when shared with our peers and co-workers. Rest in Peace!

Marce Enright, MA USA

DECconnection member

I pray that his spirit and values persevere in those of us who were lucky enough to have worked with him. -- Marce Enright

Cecily MacArthur, MA USA

DECconnection member

Such sad news. He was a great man, who created an extraordinary company. It was a honor and a privilege to have been part of his dream...

Will Emerson,

Maynard MA DECconnection member

Ken was a visionary. Not only in technology but in how he related to and treated other people. As an employer, he "set the bar" for management to a level that few employers have or will ever reach. By doing so he gained an employee work ethic, dedication, and loyalty that few employers will ever see. I am proud to have been one of those employees.

David Carthy, Israel

DECconnection member

My son Roi Carthy posted our story about What Mr. Olsen Meant to Me on TechCrunch.  Roi will be participating in a show by NPR in Boston about Ken's life.

Vanessa Fox, Arlington MA USA

DECconnection member

See Vanessa, and Ray Stata, interviewed in NECN's (New England Cable News) coverage of Ken's passing and his legacy.  Click for 4-min. video.  

Remi Vervecken,

Munich, Germany

DECconnection member

Thanks to Ken:

I was a Digital employee from 1984 - 1996. It was a great honor to work for DEC the time you were CEO.
I had the opportunity to have known you in Cannes which was an extraordinary and helpful experience.
R.I.P.
Remi Vervecken

Ava Schutzman,

USA

DECconnection

webmaster

Ken Olsen has been an inspiration to all of us as an executive who rigorously applied his impeccable personal values and ethics to create our unique professional culture.  Digital was an engineering company, yes, but each of us was appreciated and encouraged for our contributions. In the days of the booming hi-tech economy, many people could regularly switch jobs to increase their salary.  This happened less frequently at Digital, because it was the ideal place to work.  Where else were individuals valued as highly for their innovation and initiative? What other company can boast of so many long-term employees?  My 21 years is probably about average.

I will never forget what a kind man Ken was.  He did not know me personally but stopped me in the hallway once as I carried a stack of business plans and asked if I needed help!   What other company founder would be so kind to his employees at all levels?

Rest in peace, Ken.  Your lasting contributions to the fields of technology and management would be noteworthy alone, but thank you for enriching the lives of 350,000 employees the world over. 

Meredith Nikoloff,

MA USA

DECconnection member

Boy, this is sad, because I have never worked for a organization with the commitment and cooperation that there was in The DEC world. I started in the Westborough group right out of Sylvania technical school and for most of my next 23 yrs it was not a job, but a fun loving experience. The DEC CULTURE should be studied because this is where you wake up in the morning and *want* to go to work.
Thank you, KEN OLSEN, for creating it.

Ian Loughlin,

Landcaster UK

DECconnection member

During the original VAX11780 prototype debug circa 1977, Ken would take us out to lunch at the Powder Mill. He never lost touch with the 'sharp end' at DEC and mentored us towards one of the IT industry's most successful product launches.

A true gentleman. Sadly missed.

My-Quan Tran,FL USA,

DECconnection member

Thank You Mr. Ken Olsen for the DEC CULTURE. You will be missed and remembered as a great pioneer that have made the difference in so many of our lives.

Jim Higgins, Harvard, MA USA

DECconnection member

The outpouring of sentiment by my former colleagues for this industry icon over the last couple of days has been overwhelming. It is noteworthy that despite his technical excellence and business acumen the things that most people admired about him were his sincere caring for individuals, his encouraging leadership and the high moral standards and ethical behavior he insisted on. I am truly appreciative of the culture he engendered and the opportunity to work in his Company. I will always treasure the personal interaction, however limited, I had with him. May he rest in peace.

Steve Webber,

Westford MA USA

DECconnection member

As a kid from Dorchester/Boston MA with 8 brothers and sisters I had a dream that some day I would like to work for a big company, own a house in the country, raise my kids in a better neighborhood than I grew up in, have the kids go to college and graduate, travel to other countries, meet new people, and hopefully have fun in the process. This gentleman gave us all the opportunity to aspire both personally and professionally and do as much or as little as we wanted. I personally met all of my goals and exceeded my dreams exponentially. Thanks Ken and may God bless!

Carolyn Abbott, MA,

DECconnection member

First, thanks for passing along the sad news about Ken's passing. A great loss. He was a man of great vision and integrity who helped to create the world of computing and global communications that we know now. I was privileged to work for DEC for 23 years. Ken Olsen was a visionary and a role model for thousands of people. He leaves a legacy that may never be matched. I am grateful for what I learned and experienced and the friends I made while there.

Carl Galozzi,

USA

DECconnection member

Condolences to the Olsen family.  Ken’s passing truly represents the end of an era.
Working at Digital was a tremendous experience – and I remember it well; miss the professionalism of my fellow “DECies.”

    Carl Galozzi

Lisa Brown

Harvard MA, USA

DECconnection member

Ken Olsen will continue to live in our hearts...  The DEC community has demonstrated once again that the spirit and the culture of our beloved company as created by Ken Olsen is powerful. His passing has brought so many of us together again just by reconnecting with one another spending minutes from our busy lives reminiscing about the days when we were one big happy family under father Ken. May his soul rest in peace.
 

Lisa Brown, Human Resources

Jim Rainville, USA

DECconnection member

I started at the Mill in Maynard in 1969 and spent the next 38 years with DEC, Compaq, and HP. Ken was a very big inspiration to everyone in the company. The highlight of my career was when I got to spend an hour and a half interviewing Ken for the VAX VMS/OpenVMS at 20 book in 1997. He was truly a very smart and caring man. It was a very sad day when I heard of his passing. My prayers are with the Olsen family.

Patricia O'Donnell

Barrington IL
DECconnection member

It was my extraordinary privilege to work at Digital Equipment Corporation from 1978 to 1998.

I met Ken for the first time in 1979 when he was touring the Cherry Hill, NJ office and he stopped and spoke with every employee for a few minutes. He asked what I did for the company and at the time, I sold word processing systems. He turned to his host and asked why I didn't have a word processing system to use at the office so I could use what I sold (we used typewriters at that time to do generate our proposals). He voiced my own thoughts and in that instant, created within me an incredible respect and unshakeable loyalty to Ken and to Digital.

As I think about Ken and his legacy, it occurs to me that through his vision, his creativity and his passion for technology and always, always doing what was right, he created an environment that enabled hundreds of thousands of people all over the world to work hard, know they could take a risk, learn from mistakes, be creative and most important know they could accomplish any goal -- for so many years anything seemed (and was) possible at Digital -- the only boundaries were those we, individually, placed on ourselves.

For myself, Ken provided an environment where I developed a rich, fulfilling career, learned so very much, made lifelong friends and learned that it is possible to work for a "for-profit" entity that always strove to do the right thing for our clients and employees.

I am SO very fortunate to have briefly met and interacted with Ken several times during my Digital career and have the utmost respect for him and his accomplishments.

I extend my deepest sympathies to the Olsen family on the loss of a man who truly made a difference in the world.

Pat O'Donnell

Steve Lambert, Colorado Springs CO

DECconnection member

Ken would call all the engineering team members, Monday Mornings, specific to his project agenda to his Bldg. 12 office oval table and you soon learned that Ken is your lead engineer of your project and progress had best be positive or a large set of keys (Ken's massive key ring) comes flying down the table if Ken wasn't happy.

Conservative Ken assigned Steve Lambert and Ken Fitzgerald to design, build, document and build the 1st Disk file production line in the oily floors of Bldg. 5. Both Fitzgerald and Lambert had never designed a Disk before and that was true with many assignments from Ken Olsen. Ken provided funding for both of us to learn the technology that started with a Gerad 80 turntable (modified) for head testing that later resulted in the DF32 disk that was DEC's first Disk product that later led to a Disk Production facility in Colorado Springs.

Lucille Kilpatrick-DaCosta

DECconnection member

My name is Lucille Kilpatrick-DaCosta badge #18692. I had the honor to work for Digital for twenty years. I felt like Ken really cared about us and it showed. I will miss him and his great leadership.

My thoughts go out to his family and there are in my prays at this time of sadness.
All I can say is God brought home another ANGEL!!!!!!
 

Lucille

Jack Conaway
Amherst NH USA

DECconnection member

Ken was a many-faceted person who could determine the essence of problems and opportunities in many aspects of Digital's complicated business. The first time I met him was in the early 1980's. The ESG Product Line was running a CAD/CAM Expo on the west coast. It was our first show of that type and I was very surprised to see him there.

Engineering Systems was the first group to develop joint marketing relationships with third party application vendors as a fundamental strategy to leverage the sales of the new VAX computer. Ken dived into the displays with a tremendous amount of energy. He talked to our demo people about their backgrounds and even tried out some of the software. He asked the customers what they thought of the event and how important the software was to their business and asked our management about the partnership strategies and deals. I was even more surprised at the length of time he spent in long conversations at the event.

We returned to the office pleased with the customer results. A while, later Ken's office announced DEC Town the pre-cursor for the highly successful DEC Worlds that extended this model in a networked fashion to all the applications and industries that Digital served. What a vision he had!

 

Jack Conaway,  Digital 1979-1993

Dave Denniston,

Santa Barbara, CA USA

DECconnection member

I joined DEC in 1960 after interviews with Ken, Stan, and Dick Best.  I got to know Ken a bit in the very early days when I hauled him along on several customer visits. We made several trips to Bell Labs together, and I know he really liked visiting with those guys. He met Ed David on one of those visits and it was Ed that got him appointed to Nixon's Board of Scientific Advisors. I just happened to be in Maynard the day after Ken got "the call" from Ed and he told me about it. He was very pleased.

 

Dave Denniston, who worked in Field Service Marketing, Digital Australia, Mid-Atlantic Region, LDP

Bruce Lynn Lexington, MA USA

DECconnection member

In 1980, early in my tenure at DEC, my father passed away. Shortly after I received a beautiful houseplant with a card signed by Ken to express his sympathy. How many companies of this size would have a policy like this? My guess would be close to zero! That was how I thought of Ken for the 18 years I continued to work at DEC and how I remember his to this day.

Bruce Lynn (Lexington, MA), Global Healthcare Solutions Practice, EMC Corporation
Pamela Berg
Holden, MA
DECconnection member
I started working at Digital in 1980 at age 21, at the Semiconductor plant in Hudson, Ma. I didn’t even know what a computer chip was. I owe my life to Digital and Ken. Everything I am as a person today, was nurtured at that company. If you were a hard worker and had ambition, the sky was the limit. The opportunities were endless, and the Digital family was there to support you. I feel very lucky to have worked for such a wonderful company for some 25 years. And I do believe that working on the Alpha chip team can be counted as the best of my career.
 

John DeMarco Plymouth, MA

DECconnection member

I had the tremendous pleasure to work for DEC from 1983 until 1998, and then for COMPAQ and HP until 2005. During my DEC tenure I was always made to feel that I mattered, because Ken and the company made me feel that way! I was fortunate to win a COE award in 1991 and a trip to Palm Springs. Our banquet for that event was an old-fashioned "sock hop". Well during the event in walks Ken wearing a sweat shirt with "COACH" written on it. That was perfect because all of us DECcies always felt like a part of one great big team. Then Ken walked to every table and shook hands with all the award winners. He spent time thanking us for our contribution. My wife and I were shocked to see my CEO doing this ever so personal touch to the event. There will never be another Ken Olsen!!

Alex Rossolimo
Newton, MA
USA
DECconnection member

 

Ken Olsen was a man of vision in many areas. Not widely known is his important contribution to national security. In November 1991, I heard Ken speak with pride at a conference about the vital role played by DEC computers in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War. This triggered a flash of inspiration. During a coffee break, I walked up to Ken and proposed that DEC build a high tech management and control system for Soviet nukes and fissile materials, which were in danger of falling into the wrong hands following the country’s collapse.

Ken immediately recognized the importance of the problem and said: “Write me a proposal.” The Executive Committee gave their “enthusiastic support” for the project, and since at Digital “he who proposes does,” I was assigned with its implementation.

I traveled to Moscow, meeting with former US Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci and the Russian general in charge of his country’s nuclear arsenal. This was the first effort by US industry to address what became known as the problem of “loose nukes.” I worked on this until Ken’s resignation in 1992, following which support for the project vanished abruptly. I soon left DEC and the work was implemented successfully by another company, and is now helping safeguard US and world security. But Ken Olsen’s farsightedness and support were crucial at the onset of the project, and I am eternally grateful to him.

Bob Glorioso

Stow, MA

USA

DECconnection member

I was fortunate. I had the opportunity to interact with Ken on many occasions both at DEC and after we both left. However, one of my first encounters always comes through when I think of him. As you may recall, the blizzard of '78 caused all the roads in the Commonwealth to be closed for a week. After getting dug out and hanging around for a few days, I decided to go into my office, then in the bowels of Building 4, and get a jump on things. So, I quickly drove to the Mill - it was only 4 miles- and started working. No one was around and the mill was strangely quiet. About one-half hour after I got there Ken walked into my office and sat down and proceeded with some small talk about the devastation of the storm and then a technical discussion of the things we in the Research Group were working on. This went on for at least an hour and, as it was starting to get dark, I headed home. Needless to say, I didn't get done what I planned but was happy to trade it for a far ranging and interesting conversation with a very nice man.

Jim Raffa

Stow, MA

USA

DECconnection member

 

My name is Jim Raffa. I worked in the Law and Contracts Department in Merrimack, NH from February 1978 - January 1980.

My first day at Digital in 1978 was a Monday in February. It was a dark day with light snow and with a forecast of a severe Northeaster expected over the next 24 hours. I signed in, signed all my papers, was briefed on my position, met my new boss, sat at my desk for less than 1 hour. As the day finished, I said good bye to my new acquaintances. I knew my drive back from the Merrimack, NH facility to Stow, MA was going to be slow as there were 6 inches of snow on the ground when I left the facility. I did not return to work for over a week. The snow storm turned into the Blizzard of '78.

I knew that I was a new employee with no sick or vacation time built up. Therefore, I expected that February was going to be a tight month financially for me and my wife with over a week of no pay. However, when I arrived at the Merrimack, NH facility, the first thing my new boss said to me was that Ken Olsen had approved payment for all employees, even me the new employee, of salaries for the time missed because of the blizzard. The time that I missed was not to be docked from my sick or vacation time. This was one of the many wonderful experiences that I had while working at Digital and my beginning admiration for a man that remembered his employees as much as making great products and being profitable.

Charlie Moeder
Harwich, MA USA

DECconnection member

Back in 1971 or 72, I was in the PDP-8 Group. The PDP-11 had been announced and was just starting to ship and the PDP-11 was the Pizzaziest thing going.

We in the PDP-8 Group were demoralized to make an understatement.

Ken called Bill Long (our Product Line Manager) and said he would like to meet with Bill's Group. Half an hour later there were 25 of us in a very small conference room.

Ken stated:
"I know the PDP-11 is the neatest thing going, but we need the revenues from the PDP-8.
If you people don't think you can make your numbers, no problem. No problem at all.

I'll just find someone who can!"

Well . . . You never saw a more motivated group - - and we did make our numbers.

Bill Gassman, Merrimack NH USA

Ken tested the durability of a customer demo I was staging for him by “accidently” tripping over the power cord. During the conversation that ensued while the systems were rebooting, we got into a deep technical discussion about VAX DECnet hardware design. He liked being involved in all aspects of the company. It is an honor to be a 17 year DEC alumni, schooled under Ken Olsen’s leadership.

Thierry Mahieux,
DEC Sophia Antipolis, France
1984-1998

As a young engineer, DEC was my first company, soon a family, of which I was so proud to be part of.

Born and grown in Faith too, I valued Ken’s approach to and orientation of business, management style and company values.

The 14 years spent allowed me to continue shaping and enriching my professional and personal life and through DEC’s multiple past innovations, everybody’s life nowadays.

Thanks Ken for everything!

Star Dargin, Littleton MA USA

I am grateful to Ken for creating a thriving company that respected and valued people. A company that allowed people to grow, learn, and contribute in meaningful ways. I started at DEC since I was 17, my sister, and mother both worked there for many wonderful years. Star Dargin (mom: Rollie Sargent, and sister: Rosalie Delea)

Katja Pilz
Stuttgart,

Germany

Many thanks to Ken and his family!  I once was working for Digital Equipment. And it was really the very very best and nicest time in a company I had in my life.


All people I met within my time at Digital have been in a very good mood. This was the spirit of Ken, which was all around the daily business life.  I wish his family lots of peace and power, Katja

Cecil M. Dye

SC, USA

This wonderful man was a role model and mentor to all of us. Ken set the bar for ethics and leadership in corporations in my opinion. As many did, I had numerous wonderful meetings and experiences with him. He came to Cincinnati to visit our customers, he came to Sales Training to speak to our new sales classes, he mentored me thru various presentations to the Product Line Managers, he coached me on using DEC TV and specifically on the MicroVax II WW new product introduction. Just an absolutely superb leader and mentor in my experience.

Thank you to the Olsen Family with our sincere condolences.

Best regards, Cecil M. Dye

Kathy Grant

Alpharetta GA, USA

To the family of Ken Olsen:
There have been so many times I wanted to send a letter of thanks to Ken Olsen. Unfortunately now is the time I am actually doing so … during the passing of this great computer pioneer Ken Olsen. In 1984 as a young 23 year old African American female I was blessed with the opportunity to work for one of the most amazing companies in the world. This was truly a turning point in my life. To this day there are DECcies around the world that I meet who have high praises and gratitude for the opportunity to have worked for a company such as Digital Equipment Corporation (you have no idea). I am pretty sure you have heard it all but it was a pure joy and an life long fulfilling experience working for DEC. DEC was about it's people and it's people was about DEC. There is no other company that I am aware of such as Digital and it would not have been that way if it was not for Ken Olsen and his vision.

Hail to you Ken Olsen and for the memories. May you rest in peace and Thanks!  Kathy Grant

Annie Suarez

Puerto Rico, USA

My heartfelt condolences to the Olsen family. This was my first real job and I felt pride and loyalty. I always felt that Digital would take care of me - it was a true family.

I was able to learn so many things that have helped me throughout my career and today I have so many friends - we still keep in touch.

I'm proud to be a Dec employee forever...I worked in the San German manufacturing plant in HR, then I went to work in Sales office in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I then relocated to Los Angeles and worked with Digital in Culver City, and when I returned to Puerto Rico I joined again...it was a great ride!!!! Twenty-five years of pure leadership, learning experiences, and wonderful people...you cannot beat that ever.

Ken was the glue that kept us together...Rest in Peace !!!   Annie Suarez

Jean-Francois Poulain,

Paris, France and Hong Kong

“Un Grand Bonhomme” as we say in French.  [A great gentleman]

Sadness and respect come to my mind for the fantastic achievement and contribution he made to the 20th Century.
Paix a son ame  [Peace to his soul]
Deo gratias         [Thanks to God for having given Ken to us]
Jean-Francois Poulain

Sylvia Karl,

Munich, Germany

My thoughts and condolences are with the Olsen-Family!

Even if I never met Ken personally, I also feel that all the contributions DEC has made to my world, my business and personal development, was really enriching my life. Thanks Ken that he has formed such a company. Nowadays my best friends I have met in DEC 30 years ago.

Sylvia Karl (Employee Name Sylvia Hofmann)
as Secretary to the Service Mgr. Middle European Region and later on Sales Rep. Installed Base Group
from 1972 to 1988 with DEC Germany/Munich

Carlos and Manuela Sacanell, Germany

Dear Olsen family, our condolences to the entire family.

I remember that I met Ken once in my life but I have been more impressed by the spirit that he gave to this company. I have been working 11 years for DEC where I met my wife. This is 28 years ago.

The education of “how to treat your employees and run a company” is still present every day and it has been the best professional experience until today. DEC has been exceptional by all means and this was only possible due to one person… Ken.
 

I am really sorry to hear this but be assured the spirit of Ken’s work is still alive at a lot of people around the world.   Carlos and Manuela Sacanell

Bill Taylor,

Vero Beach FL, USA

I was saddened to learn of Ken's death this past Sunday. He was not only a great visionary in the early days of computing but ran a company which had true values. We need more of them today! I have often quoted the last of the 10 "Rules" that we all knew and followed: "When in doubt, do what's right" What powerful and simple words that were actually followed while I was there. Ken's Quaker roots showed through in "our company". We all had a real pride of being part of something special which was built up by a special person. We'll miss you Ken.

Bill Taylor - ('72-'91)
Chito Collins, San Jose CA, USA Hello, I had the privilege of meeting Ken at a training session in 1978 and he truly inspired me to be the best and to "do my job well". My computer career is still influenced by him, and sending his family and dear friends and fellow ex Dec my deepest sympathies. He will be in my prayers.
Ms. Chito Collins

Wilhelm Gailus,

Volkach, Bavaria, Germany

I‘m very sad to hear from the death of Ken Olsen. I want to give you my condolences upon the loss of a great person.

Wilhelm Gailus

PE Moody,

MA, USA

This is all too sad. He was a righteous man. I discovered a couple years ago that early in his career at MIT he started coming out to Wenham, to the estate that became Gordon College. Now I know that he secretly poured money into building dorms, the science center, etc. and it makes me happy to think that the profits and dreams he had at DEC, although the company disappeared, made their way into the school that he founded on his ethical principles and strong character. We're lucky to have had him.

Patricia Moody - worked in Westminster, Mass and Salem, NH FA & T

Note: Patricia also shared a section from Psalm 1 about the life of a righteous man and how it reminded her of Ken.

Kevin Kennelly,

USA

From 82 thru 92, I worked for Professional Press. We published ‘The DEC Professional’ and ‘The VAX Professional’ magazines (among others). Needless to say, I was keenly aware of DEC, it’s products and it’s people.  And today, like you, I’m sad at Ken’s passing.
Kevin Kennelly
Oracle DBA/MediMedia USA

Peggy Romano, USA I just read the news and feel sadness for the loss of someone who through his visionary leadership provided me an opportunity to work at a great company for many years. I do not think I can fully quantify the rewards brought into my life as a result of working at DEC. Best friends who I met at DEC, personal and professional growth and wonderful work experiences are just a few of the things for which I thank Ken and DEC.

My condolences to his family and friends. I'm sure he will be missed by many. -- Peggy Romano

George Lander,

USA

Thanks to Ken for the Saturdays he spent on the Mill floors chatting with the guys and girls putting in overtime. He always had an interest in the products and people associated with them. One always knew he was nearby when someone mentioned “ Uncle Ken is coming to flip some switches”. He will always be the guy in the Red flannel shirt to us.

All the best to his family.
George Lander, HPTC Support Team, CSC-Unix

Eugene Weatherspoon,

USA

Hello,  You have my condolences in the lost of Ken Olsen. D.E.C. was my first employer out of college. I worked for D.E.C. for 14 years (until the company was sold to COMPAQ). I love the family values and commitment to employee training and development that Ken implemented. May God continue to bless your family in this time of bereavement and always.

Eugene Weatherspoon

Keith Allen, USA

God Bless Ken....
I did get to meet Ken a few times when I supported the Office of the President, I was always very nervous around him.. Ken always made me feel at ease and he seemed to always be interested in what the issue Was I was trying to resolve. Very nice guy, felt like I was visiting my grandfather. (He let me sit in his chair to fix his issue once….)
John Kirstner, USA A very sad day indeed. What a great man he was.

Michael Accardi,

USA

Think for a second of the opportunity he provided for so many people.

Rest in peace KO.

Richard Gasparoni, USA Too bad. He was a pioneer in the Computer business.
Sad day around here when that news gets out.

Think of the lives he touched over the years.
He built up a culture at DEC that I have really not seen any other place since I left there.

There should be a bronze statue of this man in Maynard in front of the Mill.
He built an empire. Sad. Lots of ex-DECie’s floating around the world.
David Heuss. USA I still remember the day that I was sitting in my cubicle in DDD in Nashua, NH and Ken stuck his head in to ask if it was OK to use the phone in the cubicle next door J. Like I was going to say no or something.
Bob Shagoury, USA Very sad to hear of Ken Passing as he was truly a great man to work for and know.
Dennis Majikas, USA Ken’s inspiration lives on…
Mike Hay, USA It was sure a great experience working at DEC when Ken was CEO.
Steve Davis, WMO, USA Thanks for sending this along. It’s a time I’ll never forget and a man I much admired and had the pleasure to meet in person. That memory will last forever.
Paul Bennett, USA Condolences to the family – his whole “DEC family” is greatly saddened! He was truly a great man, and a wonderful leader to us DEC employees.
Bob Dufresne, WMO, USA
A legend has passed but his kind works and deeds will remain forever... not many like him anymore....
 
Carla Jalbert, WMO, USA Sad to hear this news… knew that he wasn’t well – we owe so much to him for creating such a great company as Digital!
Jim Kersey, WMO, USA So sad to hear our beloved Ken Olsen has passed away.
Merillyn Chicknavorian, WMO, USA This is sad news about a great man.
Luanne Buccieri, USA May you rest in peace Ken Olsen: Founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Having worked in the Maynard Mill at DEC for 16 years, I had the pleasure of meeting Ken as he did his daily walkthrough shaking hands and chatting with many of the employees. One of the highlights of my career.
Christine Pineau, WMO, USA For all those former Deccies out there, Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation passed away this weekend. He was a great man, inventor and boss. He will be greatly missed. RIP
Janet-Lee Lanzilotti Norris, WMO, USA OH so sad. Ken, thank you for starting a technical revolution. I will never forget your bright smile and your blue eyes as you totally dissed the guy you were talking to and said good morning to this 24-year old outside Acton-On-The-Hill.
Elaine Carroll, WMO, USA The man inspired loyalty like no other… you can bet that current employees won’t feel the sense of loss and sadness most of the DECies do upon hearing about KO’s passing.

Elaine Carroll

Guy Dalmasso,

L'Alandier, France

Many thanks Ken for enriching all of my life. My condolences go to the Olsen family.
Guy Dalmasso (DEC employed)
Maribeth Marcello, MA USA ...the love and affection for Ken Olsen speaks to a bygone era that we will cherish forever!

Reesa Abrams

Santa Cruz, CA, USA

The PDP-11 minicomputer revolutionized the computer industry in the 1970’s so much that I HAD to move from Albuquerque to Boston to work for DEC.  My first job there was as the quality engineer who debugged V1.0 of what you now call MS Word.

 

My second job was to write the DEC* and IBM Culture manuals and teach the information to DEC employees. My third job was industrial visitor @ Stanford University.   [*now posted on our website]

It is the only company I ever worked for where people still thank the founders for just letting us be there.
I am grateful for all my experiences there.  I still talk with and meet with my team.

Rallis Sarantis, Munich, Germany I've being working 8 years with good old DEC in Germany, I became very sad as I heard that Ken passed away!

Rest in peace, Ken, and thank you for all the contributions you have made to our world, and for enriching all of our lives. Me and my Family sends the heartfelt condolences for the entire Olsen family.
Diane Miller, NH, USA Very sad to hear of Ken Olsen’s passing. What a great visionary he was indeed.

I am one of those ex-Decies that grew up and learned so much at my years there. I would not be where I am today without Digital, the best company that anyone could work for.

Jean-François Rousseau,

Paris, France

Just to add some more words (certainly the same ones) to the comments coming from the DEC community: I spent 13 years within DEC, and while Ken was the Head of DIGITAL it was no doubt to me to be a member of the best company in the world. Mainly due to Ken.

Jean-François Rousseau, DEC member from 1982 to 1995, Jf.rousseau@quantaflow.com
Barbara Falter, Munich, Germany

Remembrances from a German employee to Ken's family:
 

I never forget DECworld 88 in Cannes where I had the honour to see Ken live as key speaker at the opening event in the Palais de Festival et Congres. He was such a good speaker, very enthusiastic and I was so proud to work for Digital Equipment. I was one of the fair hostesses and loved to work at the DECworld 88 event. It was a really big and important event for our customers worldwide, I met a lot of DEC people from foreign countries and visited a few of them in several countries and we became good friends. It was one of my best experiences in my lifetime to work for DEC and with DEC people. And I still meet a few of them and we all have great memories. All the best for Ken's family. He was a real role model for a lot of companies and people. You can be very proud of him. I will never forget him.

 

The time with DEC was the best in my whole lifetime and I regretted it so much that I could not proceed... Our customers were very proud of the DEC machines and it was always special for me. I worked as admin in the sales department, in the sales team who covered BMW first and then for the head of the German Sales department.

Kind regards, Barbara Falter - 9 years DEC employee

Gary Holland

still at HP, now in Germany

I just want to pass on my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ken Olsen. A man I unfortunately never had the pleasure of meeting. He was the founder and to myself and many others the father of DEC, an amazingly innovative and diverse company. In England we say that the acorn never falls far from the tree, meaning we as children will be very much like our parents. This also applies to managers of any business be they large or small. Ken provided and nurtured a wonderfully open and caring working society where I was allowed to develop and prosper in business but more importantly as a human being. A feat in any company … but in such a global corporate it was quite unique.

As I said, I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Ken but, I always think of him as someone with a very sharp mind, a visionary who neither suffered fools gladly or could watch a stray cat suffer, a man with integrity and a huge portion of emotional intelligence. I worked for Ken for 14 years and look back on that period of my life with absolute delight. Within DEC, I was an acorn who was more than happy to fall near the tree.

Ken, may you rest in peace. I never knew you ….. but I miss you all the same …..
Kindest regards, Gary Holland

Keith G. Hamil
Lawrenceville, GA, USA

I worked for DEC for over 13 years in various Field Service and Sales Support functions. I embraced the DEC culture and work environment and it will always be with me. I am currently employed by Cisco Systems, Inc. and I proudly display my DEC mementos in my office today.

I had the opportunity to meet Ken at DECWorld ’90. I will never forget that event and having the opportunity to meet someone who had such a positive impact on my life. I will always have my memories. Working for Digital was more about fun than business.

Peace be with you- Ken Olsen friends and family. The legacy lives on.

Keith G. Hamil

Jay (Jr) LaCroix, Merrimac MA
USA

I joined DEC manufacturing in 1967, Building 5/5. That blustery winter we had many major snowstorms; during one of them I called the front desk in Maynard at 6:30am before I headed out to work in the blizzard and asked if we were open. The response I got was “Sir, this is Digital, we are always open.” I still live with this key work ethic to this very day. I learned and grew so much from watching Ken, his values and the DEC culture. Thank you Ken! Jay (Jr) LaCroix 1967-1994

Judy Cloutier

Marlborough MA, USA

Our Great Ken Olsen:  Ken was a wonderful man, and a great ICON in the computer world but also to each of us who worked there. That was the place to be. I was hired in and worked in the Business Products group and "WE ROCKED", because we had a hard-working, dedicated group to succeeding in "winning" and the sense of family was surely felt.


In the 80's I walked the Boston Marathon and raised money, and we had "MATCHING GIFT". Ken was all about "GIVING TO THE COMMUNITY".

I sang for the "Decarolers" and we went to his office where he sat with all attention to us and appreciated the service we gave.

Memories fondly fill my heart of the great man and many happy days are remembered with love and respect.
Judy Cloutier

Greg Thorne

Natick MA USA

Hello,  I worked for DEC from 1977 through the Compaq transition and was laid off by H-P.
From the Natick core lab to HOSS to GIA Field Service, and on, the opportunities were endless and exciting.  In my current job I still work on a large and critical OpenVMS application at Fidelity.

So, if a "Thank You" for 35 years of gainful employment can be shared here, I wish to give him my Thanks.  I only met him briefly a couple of times, but he was very kind to shake my hand and make me feel at ease.  Thank you Ken,
Greg

Hamid Noorian
California - USA

I was saddened by the news of Ken Olsen’s death. He has been my life’s Hero. An exemplary bright and personable leader and CEO with unique and generous management style unlike any other CEO I have seen.

He led a successful company and touched the lives of tens of thousands of employees and customers in a unique and personal way. This is the reason why after twenty-some years Digital’s former employees still remember and value their time at Digital.

I only met Ken Olsen once in an employee meeting but enjoyed working at DEC for seven years.

Digital Equipment Corporation is and has been the best company I have ever worked for. I started at DEC in Customer Support Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, moved to Engineering in Marlborough and finally transferred to the Professional Services organization in Irvine California.

May God Bless his spirit.

Bernadette Rucker, M.Ed.
Children's Services of Roxbury
IFC Program Supervisor

My most memorable experience of Mr. Ken Olsen was of his passion and commitment to the Urban Community. I was an employee at the Digital Roxbury, Massachusetts Keyboard Manufacturing Plant. At that site, there were basketball courts on the property that the urban teens used and took advantage of during the spring, fall and summer months of the year. When Mr. Olsen visited the Roxbury Plant, he was vigilant in ensuring that the courts grounds were clean and manicured, and basketball hoops were in place year round. I was proud to work for Digital and grateful that there was a serious commitment to make a difference in the urban community. May his family be Blessed and may Ken Olsen rest in peace – Well Done!

Linda Dolan

Concord MA USA

I spent the first ten years of my 25 year long DEC experience in the mill and saw Ken walking through the halls so many times. He always had a smile on his face and a “hello” for everyone. Working at DEC was a great experience and a place I miss to this day. The lifelong friendships I made at DEC are the best. I recently had to appear before our local city council for a volunteer position with our local Emergency Management office. After I gave them a brief overview of my past experiences regarding work, one of the councilors said “I too worked at DEC for a long time. It was a good run!” Truer words were never spoken. Thanks to Ken Olsen, people around the world had one of the best work experiences ever. I had the great opportunity to work in both Ireland and Scotland and cherish those 3 years as 3 of the best of my life.

Rest in peace, Ken and thanks for a good run! My heartfelt sympathy to the Olsen family.
Linda Dolan

GG Loh

Singapore

I worked for DEC in Singapore, started as Software Specialist and ended as Director, Networks & Systems Integration Service. Under the great influence of DEC culture, such as "do the right thing", I grew up with the Company from 1983 to 1998, and made many friends till this day.

Ken has always impressed me an innovator and a great leader. My last face-to-face meeting with Ken was during the last ever DECWorld (1992?). He was very approachable, such an unassuming character for a CEO.

RIP Ken.

Dian Pekin, USA

Ken required of his employees excellence in technology development and in human behavior. Consequently, the world was made significantly better by his presence in it.

Joe O'Leary,

Natick, MA

USA

I started in 1978 at DEC in Natick; I never have or will for a better company with such an outstanding leader as Ken. I transferred to the Mill in 1981 to the MCESS group on 5-1. I still remember Ken coming around at Christmas to shake every one's hand and how easy he was to talk to if you saw him in the hall. He is a great man who ran a great company and will be missed. They laid off our group in 1990 and, although we got a great severance package, I cried like a baby that day, never be another company like it, I’ll never forget those years………..R.I.P. Ken……..Joe O’Leary.

Jim Wengler, Acton, MA

USA

30 years at Digital.  I remember driving up route 27 to Maynard with my then classmate Charley Valentine in 1964. We had just been hired out of Wentworth Institute and were reporting for our first day at Digital. We came around the corner to building 5, went inside and checked in for duty. What is this place Digital, and who runs it? We and our families soon found out over the next three decades. Ken's spirit permeated the company and made it the technology giant that we all came to appreciate and love.

Rest In Peace Ken, Thank you and May God Bless You.   Jim Wengler

Taryn (Lee) Johnson,

USA

When I started working at DEC in July 14th 1975, I was only 19 years old. I stayed on for the next 23 years. Now as I look back, there was and never will be another company I truly enjoyed working for. I met Ken when he came to Hudson at the Semiconductor plant where we were celebrating the revealing of the Alpha processor. I stood next to Ken and congratulated him for the success of the project!  He just thanked me in his down-to-earth way that we all know so very well. It was truly an honor to have grown up as a teenager, to become a professional business woman who learned the values of hard work and dedication. Rest in peace Ken and once again, thanks for creating DEC and making it one of the best places I have ever worked for in my life!

Taryn Johnson (a.k.a. Taryn Lee)

Iain Watson, European Manufacturing, Galway, Ireland

I joined DEC manufacturing in 1969 in Reading England, to subsequently relocate to Galway Ireland in 1971 where I completed my 21+ years of service. During that time, I made a lot of friends within the corporation from all disciplines and Countries I am still in touch with many. I was very proud and appreciative that during that time, I actually talked to Ken twice. I consider myself to be very lucky to have joined Digital at a young age.  Other DEC managers completed my education by teaching me management skills, etc.

DEC did not make me rich as in $, but they did make me rich in myself, I will never forget! Today I am in my early sixties, retired, 4 grown up children and 14 grandchildren in their own houses!  When I joined DEC I had a wife, nothing in the bank, no assets!  DEC gave me the opportunity to change that! I will not be able to attend the Memorial, but I will be there in spirit, as will a lot of others, I’m sure.

Thank you Ken and Digital - Rest in peace!

Bill Hanson, Mashpee, MA, USA Thank You Ken

I knew when I first walked into the Mill in January 1967 that DEC was a very special company. Yes, it was a leader in the young computer world with its mini computers. But it was also a leader in Doing the Right Thing. I was impressed that there was a Mother Shift, so that women with young kids could work and yet be home when their kids were home from school. It was clear to me then, that DEC was about more than just building computers. DEC was also about helping to rebuild an old woolen mill town and to be a good corporate citizen.

Thanks Ken for the opportunity to help to make the world a better place not just with our computer technology, but also with how we treated people and our commitment to do the right thing for all of DEC stakeholders, from customers to communities.

I write this not only in behalf of myself, but for so many special folks such as, Pete Kaufmann, Cy Kendrick, and Leroy Saylor, who would want their opportunity to say their special thanks to you.

And Yes Ken, we still wear our Digital badges with great pride.

Bill Hanson
Henry Cauthen, Jr., Lowell MA, USA Mr. Ken Olsen contributed a lot of ideals and inventions to the computer world.
Armand Hebert With great and humble respect, I want to send a note Ken Olsen. My name is Armand Hebert. DEC badge 49016. I stared with DEC in 1975, in Salem NH, trained in a few places in MA but Salem was my main office, Coats bldn if any one remembers, then moved to NI once it was finished. Westminster was my training place. I want to send a note to Ken just to say thanks for your excellent support to me personally back in the late 70’s as you came to the Westminster MA plant, and also the Salem NH plant often and a few of us Eng.’s sat with you while you met with us, and listened to us newbies Engineers for a general coffee talk, you asked of our thoughts about how to make the company work better, more efficient …etc. I’m now 57 yo. I was 19 when I first met Ken. Dec->Compaq->and now HP owns me. I’ve accepted their enhanced early retirement package after 38 years of continued dedicated employment. I’ve weathered a few storms over the past decades and I thought if Ken is still around, I want to send a thx to him as his company provided me with the tools I needed, gave me the appropriate support, and because of DEC I’m successful in life. I love computers too, so I guess that helps.
   
 

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