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Kenneth H. Olsen

Magnetic Core Memory

U.S. Patent No. 3,161,861
Inducted in 1990
Born Feb. 20, 1926 - Died Feb. 6, 2011
Military Service: U.S. Navy

Kenneth H. Olsen, described by Fortune magazine in 1986 as the "most successful entrepreneur in the history of American business," invented vital computer components and cofounded Digital Equipment Corporation. Born in Stratford, Connecticut, Olsen began his career working summers in a machine shop. After serving in the Navy, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a B.S. in 1950 and an M.A. in 1952. While at MIT, Olsen was recruited by the Air Force to help build a computerized flight simulator. He also directed the building of the first transistorized research computer.

In 1957, Olsen and Harlan Anderson formed the Digital Equipment Corporation. Digital began producing printed circuit logic modules used to test electronic equipment, and started developing the world's first small interactive computer. In 1960 Digital produced the Programmed Data Processor or PDP-1, a computer that used a cathode ray tube monitor. In 1965, Digital brought out the PDP-8, the world's first mass-produced minicomputer. In 1970 Digital produced the PDP-11, which became the most popular minicomputer line in history. In the 1960s, Olsen also received patents for a saturable switch, a diode transformer gate circuit, magnetic core memory, and the line printer buffer.

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