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.
Bell, Gordon C., interviewee
Lynch, Daniel C., editor
Pelkey, James L., interviewer, editor
Computer History Museum
Place of Publication
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
James L. Pelkey collection : history of computer communications