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Kenneth Olsen, computer pioneer, dies

Kenneth Olsen, a computer industry pioneer and co-founder of Digital Equipment Corp., has died. He was 84.

His death Sunday was announced by Gordon College in Wenham, Mass.

DEC, which Olsen launched in 1957, is considered an icon in technology circles today.

In the 1960s and '70s, Digital played a central role in creating the market for "minicomputers," powerful, refrigerator-sized machines that appealed to scientists, engineers and other number crunchers who did not need the bigger, multimillion-dollar mainframes used by big corporations.

At its peak in the 1980s, DEC was the second-largest computer maker behind International Business Machines Corp.

"In the heady days of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, it's too easy to forget that it was Ken Olsen's vision of interactivity that took computing away from the centralized mainframe and into the hands of the people," said Gordon Bell, who joined DEC in 1960 and headed the company's engineering operations for more than 20 years.

- AP

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