“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”?


Choose your answer and the correct choice will be revealed.

MIT engineer and Digital Equipment Corporation co-founder Ken Olsen was quoted as saying that there would be no reason for anyone to have computers in their home and although he admitted to the quote, he said that it was taken out of context, which was in reference to computers being used in home automation and not PCs.

The statement made in 1977 arguably reflects the mindset and the state of the computing industry during that era, with some suggesting that his comment was more about the complexity and size of computers at the time rather than a lack of vision for personal computing.

Personal computers including the Altair 8800 had existed for a few years at the time of his remark and Olsen himself owned a computer at home. The same year as his “prediction” brought a series of PCs from the likes of RadioShack, Apple, Commodore and Atari.

Ken Olsen and Harlan Anderson founded DEC in 1957. The company played a pivotal role in the development of the computer industry. One of DEC’s most notable contributions was the PDP (Programmed Data Processor) series of computers. These machines, particularly the PDP-8 and PDP-11, were smaller and more affordable than the mainframe computers of that era, making them more accessible to businesses and educational institutions. The PDP series is often credited with paving the way for the development of minicomputers, a critical step towards today’s personal computers.

DEC’s approach to computing was revolutionary for its time. The company focused on interactive computing, where users could directly interact with the computer, rather than the batch processing method that was prevalent in mainframe computing. In the 1980s, DEC made a significant contribution to the development of networked computing. DECnet was a set of networking protocols that allowed computers to connect with each other, sharing resources and information. This was a precursor to modern networking and played a role in the development of the Internet.

Despite its early successes and innovations, DEC struggled to adapt to the rapidly changing technology landscape in the late 1980s and 1990s, particularly with the rise of personal computers. In 1998, DEC was acquired by Compaq, marking the end of an era for one of the computing industry pioneers.

Ken Olsen retired from DEC in 1992 and passed away at age 84 in Indianapolis, Indiana on February 6, 2011 – a long enough life to see that home automation has also become commonplace.


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