[PW] Kenneth Olsen Computer Quote (Quotation Query #745)

Luke Owens lilongjr at gmail.com
Sun May 8 20:39:09 PDT 2016


I read a similar story in Allan Sherman's _The Rape of the A*P*E_ many
years ago. In that one, it was an unnamed IBM executive back in the 1950s
or early 1960s.

Luke

On Sun, May 8, 2016 at 11:49 AM, Ivan Van Laningham <ivanlan9 at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Oh, my.
>
> I spent a good part of the 80s working on DEC Vax 11/780s (actually, a 782
> dual-processor unit).  For at least half that, we had it installed in a big
> room without a raised floor, which meant we had cables as thick as your
> forearm running all over the concrete slab.  It was air-conditioned, and we
> had a halon system, but that was about the extent of the creature comfort
> level.  Noisy as hell.
>
> The reason I bring this up is because at about the same time, which was
> during the last days of the arpa-net and the early days of what grew into
> the internet, I was following some computer usenet group, and ran across
> some guy who had an 11/782 in his garage somewhere.  It ate vast amounts of
> power, but since he was working for DEC at the time (IIRC) and they paid
> the power bill, he was able to work from home rather a lot.  Something the
> rest of us peons had to do through modems (max 9600 baud).
>
> It would seem disingenous, at best, for Olson to have made such a comment,
> especially as late as 1977, when he had a scientist working for him who had
> a monster like this in his garage.  I've heard it myself, but I never did
> put much credence in it.
>
> Bill Gates's oft-cited remark about no one ever needing more than 640k
> memory, however, I believed for years.  That, too, is untrue:
>
> http://www.computerworld.com/article/2534312/operating-systems/the--640k--quote-won-t-go-away----but-did-gates-really-say-it-.html
> ;-)
>
> Metta,
> Ivan
>
> On Sun, May 8, 2016 at 12:13 PM, John Sleasman <johnsleasman at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > While not fully referenced, the Snopes article on this cites DEC sources
> > and quotations/paraphrases of Olson's related comments to the effect that
> > there was a context of not needing "computers" in the sense of old style
> > mainframes:
> >
> > http://www.snopes.com/quotes/kenolsen.asp
> >
> > "[That interpretation of my comment] is, of course, ridiculous because
> the
> > business we were in was making PCs, and almost from the start I had them
> at
> > home and my wife played Scrabble with time-sharing machines, and my
> > sixth-grade son was networking the MIT computers and the DEC computers
> > together, hopefully without doing mischief, using the computers I had at
> > home. Home computers were a natural continuum of the "personal computers"
> > that people had at work, in the laboratory, in the military."
> >
> >
> > On 05/08/2016 11:53 AM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> >
> >> Kenneth H. Olsen of the DEC Corporation is often credited with saying
> >> something like "There is no reason for any individual to have a
> computer in
> >> his home" in a speech to the World Future Society in Boston in 1977.
> Often
> >> it is said that Olsen was quoted to this effect in Time Magazine in
> 1977.
> >>
> >> I can find no contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous documentation for
> >> Olsen having said this in 1977, nor have I found it quoted anywhere near
> >> 1977 in Time Magazine.  I would welcome any pre-1984 documentation for
> the
> >> quote, or any solid leads to verification of the quote.
> >>
> >> Fred Shapiro
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Project Wombat - Project-Wombat-Open
> >> list at project-wombat.org
> >> http://www.project-wombat.org/
> >>
> >>
> > _______________________________________________
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> > http://www.project-wombat.org/
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Ivan Van Laningham
> God N Locomotive Works
> http://www.pauahtun.org/
>
> http://www.python.org/workshops/1998-11/proceedings/papers/laningham/laningham.html
> Army Signal Corps:  Cu Chi, Class of '70
> Author:  Teach Yourself Python in 24 Hours
> _______________________________________________
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> http://www.project-wombat.org/
>


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