Harlan Anderson

Portrait of Harlan Anderson
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… we had a whole generation of MIT engineering graduates in the electrical engineering department who cut their teeth on our computer ‘cause they couldn’t get near the big IBM computers that were at MIT at the time. Harlan Anderson

Born: October 15, 1929, Freeport, Illinois

While in college in 1950, Harlan Anderson first became interested in computers while taking programming courses for the Illiac I—a large custom-built mainframe machine at the University of Illinois under construction at the time. Two years later, Anderson was hired by Ken Olsen at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory to work on the TX-0 (Transistor eXperimental -0) computer.

In 1957, Anderson and Olsen left MIT Lincoln Laboratory to form Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) with a $70,000 investment from General Georges F. Doriot at the American Research and Development Corporation, a venture capital firm.

DEC first began producing printed circuit logic modules used by engineers to test electronic equipment. Based on these modules, the company developed the world's first small interactive computer, the Programmed Data Processor (PDP-1) in 1960 and (in 1964) the PDP-8, the world first mass-produced minicomputer.

Some of Anderson’s other achievements include being the General Chairman of the Eastern Joint Computer Conference; serving as the Director of Technology for Time, Inc.; and funding many small technology companies.

Anderson holds B.S. (1951) and M.S. (1952) degrees in physics from the University of Illinois.