Severino knew on graduating from college that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He joined Digital Equipment Corporation in 1967 as a design engineer for industrial control systems. In 1972, he left DEC and joined the start-up Prime Computers and, among other projects, designed a product to interconnect multiple computers. Then in 1976, Severino became a hands-on entrepreneur when he joined the unfunded start-up Data Translations, a company focusing on building data acquisition products. Although the company would become a success, Severino, wanted to head his own company, not just be a key member of management, and resigned in 1979 to find a compelling opportunity. In May 1981, he founded Interlan, an early Ethernet Networking company. By the fall of 1984, success forced the need for more cash and the Board of Directors decided to sell the company. On March 1, 1985, Micom acquired Interlan for $65 million. Severino became Corporate Vice President, Product Planning and Technology. Frustrated in a staff role. Severino resigned in September intent on founding yet another company. In May 1986 he founded Wellfleet, a company to become an early leader in Internetworking and in the years ahead a public company.
It seems like only yesterday when Paul and I were sitting in my room in the Hyatt Hotel on the Charles River getting to know each other before beginning the interview. Discovering we had gone to the same college only a few years apart helped thaw any edge that might have existed between us. So with the evening ritual of racing crews practicing on the Charles River in the background, and the sun casting its pale cool orange over the city before disappearing for another day, we talked for a few hours before continuing our conversation over dinner in the restaurant foyer. What struck me were how the entrepreneurial cultures of both Coasts were grounded in the large technology-companies, such as DEC and Prime and Hewlett-Packard and Intel. And how universities played critical roles, such as MIT and Stanford.
Pelkey, James L., Interviewer
Severino, Paul, Interviewee
Computer History Museum
Place of Publication
PRIME (Software); DEC; PRIMENET; Data Translations; token ring; Ethernet; Interlan; Micom; Wellfleet