Artifact Details


Bell, Gordon interview

Catalog Number







Bell, Gordon, interviewee
Lynch, Daniel C., editor
Pelkey, James L., interviewer, editor


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Cupertino, California


35 p.


C. Gordon Bell is a legendary computer designer and architect. He received his B.S.E.E. (1956) and M.S.E.E. (1957) from M.I.T. In 1960, Kenneth Olsen and Harlan Anderson the co-founders of Digital Equipment Corporation (D.E.C.), recruited Bell to join their start-up. For the next six years (1960-1966), Bell made major contributions to the PDP-1, including designing the first UART chip. He was also the principal architect of the PDP-4 and PDP-6 computers. He then left D.E.C. to join the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University to teach computer science (1966-1972). In 1973, Bell rejoined D.E.C. where he became vice-president of engineering in charge of developing the VAX computer, D.E.C.’s most successful computer. Through out this period, Bell was also a member of the ARPA community. Tragically, Bell suffered a heart attack in 1983, and shortly thereafter resigned from D.E.C. Not content ‘taking it easy,’ he founded Encore Computer that advanced a state of computer design. Unsuccessful yet not discouraged, Bell next became one of the founders of Ardent Computers in 1986. In 1988 he became vice-president of R&D, the position he held when he agreed to sit for this interview.

Bell also gave me a valuable introduction to Stu Wecker, the creator of DECnet, who I would also interview. As I left his Ardent Computer office, I realized I had triggered his joy of teaching and his justifiable pride in his accomplishments with D.E.C. It had been a valuable use of my time as well as a lot of fun, to say nothing of how much I had learned.




ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network); Carnegie Mellon University; Pelkey, James L.; Tymshare; Telenet; Ethernet; Operational amplifier (op-amp); semiconductor; Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter (UART); Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC); Bell Laboratories; Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO ); Interface Message Processor (IMP); Wecker, Stuart; DECnet; Metcalfe, Robert; Data General Corporation (DG); Liddle, David

Collection Title

James L. Pelkey collection : history of computer communications


Gift of James Pelkey

Lot Number