Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)

DEC was founded in 1957 by Ken Olson and Harlan Anderson, engineers who had worked on very early machines at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They began by building small circuit modules for laboratory use and, in 1961, released their first computer, the PDP-1.

During the 1960s, they produced a variety of machines, mainly aimed at the laboratory market, culminating in 1964 with the introduction of the PDP-8, often regarded as the first true minicomputer. They also entered the scientific computing market with 36-bit machines and had a very successful timesharing computer known as the PDP-10.

In 1976, they moved into the high-end computing market with the VAX series of machine (an extension of their popular PDP-11 series), an architecture that extended the PDP-11s word length to 32 bits. In 1990 a series of late releases of a new disk storage system put financial pressure on the company and, despite releasing their powerful Alpha microprocessor, DEC struggled. It sold off various sections of the company and, in 1998, the firm itself was bought by Compaq which, in turn, was bought out by Hewlett-Packard in 2002.