Artifact Details


de Castro, Ed (Edson) oral history

Catalog Number





2002-11-22; 2003-01-13


de Castro, Edson (Ed), Interviewee
Hendrie, Gardner, Interviewer; Cameraperson
McInnis, Dan, Editor


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Boylston, Massachusetts


67 p.


Edson (Ed) de Castro grew up in Newton, Massachusetts during the 1940s. He attended Lowell Technological Institute and received a degree in Electrical Engineering. During his teen years he had repaired TVs and knew he wanted to study electrical engineering. After graduation, de Castro joined the Air National Guard and after a stint of basic training in 1961 joined Digital Equipment Company (DEC) as an applications engineer. In September 1962 de Castro left DEC to work on an MBA degree at Harvard. He completed the first year but did not continue, due to grades. He returned to DEC and worked in their Custom Products Division on the design of a computer for the Canadian Atomic Energy Commission that was to become the PDP-5. He became an Application Engineer working with customers using the PDP-5. The PDP-5 was successful and he then started on the design of an upgrade for the PDP-5 which became the PDP-8. De Castro continued to work in the field with customers and their applications. After the introduction of the IBM System 360 family of computers in 1964, de Castro became convinced that DEC needed to produce a new set of computers that would compete with IBM. He did a product description and presented it to the DEC Computer Guidance Committee. His ideas did not mesh with the current DEC product line and he was turned down. He then began to formulate a business play for a new company that he would start. De Castro discusses his last projects at DEC -- a proposed new computer architecture, the PDP-X which was rejected and an upgrade for the PDP-8. He then talks about how he and several other DEC employees agreed to start a company based on his experience from the PDP-X project. He goes into great detail on the events leading up to the founding of the Data General Corporation. The company started in mid 1967and went public in November 1969. The design of their first computer, the NOVA is then discussed in detail. De Castro remembers a great many of the people involved in the early company and their contributions to the NOVA computer and the many follow on products. One of these is a supermarket system that he reviews. The events leading up to the famous Tracy Kidder book: "The Soul of a New Machine" receive his comments from a management perspective. De Castro then gives a philosophical approach to the events leading up to the takeover of Data General by EMC in 1999, and their handling of the last computer products developed by Data General, the AViiON and CLARiiON. These products caused a rift between de Castro and his board and resulted in his leaving the company before the EMC sale. The interview ends with de Castro talking about his activities since leaving Data General.




de Castro, Edson D.; Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC); PDP-5 (Computer); PDP-8 (Computer); Lowell Technological Institute; Data General Corporation (DG); EMC; Data General Nova (Computer); Data General Super Nova (Computer); Data General microNova (Computer); Data General Eclipse MV/Series; PDP computers--History; PDP-X; PDP-8/I; Data General AViiON; Data General CLARiiON; Data General One; Burkhardt, Henry, III; Richman, Herbert J.; Sogge, Richard G.

Collection Title

Oral Histories

Lot Number