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In Memory of Ken Olsen, a Phenomenal Entrepreneur

Ken Olsen, the father of what has been called the second generation of computing and “America’s most successful entrepreneur” (Fortune magazine, 1986), recently passed away. Ken’s company, Digital Equipment Corporation was at one time the world’s second-largest computer company with more than 120,000 people at operations in more than 95 countries – surpassed in size only by IBM.

Ken Olsen was a phenomenal entrepreneur. His one wrong call was the personal computer. He believed the PC would “fall flat on its face in business” – a stance that moved Digital’s board to force him to resign in 1992.

This is an exercise in balance for all of us entrepreneurs: you have to be passionately committed to your vision – and yet still flexible enough to read the marketplace and take advice. Maybe this is like learning how to ride a bicycle. You can’t study it in a book. You have to try it and get in action to learn and feel what works and what doesn’t.

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