Ken Olsen was Right: We don’t need computers in the home

Back in the day, Ken Olsen, then CEO of Digital Equipment Corp. (or DEC), handled an interview badly and was quoted with the phrase:

[“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” ](

What he really mean is described in the Snopes article linked by the quote.

However, Ken was a big proponent of shared computing. He believed that most companies and individuals didn’t have enought “IT Skills” to manager their own computers well. (Backups, failures, etc.) I seem to recall that he even started another small startup company after DEC that was going to market such services to small businesses. But after that quote it was too late. He was branded. I bet he wishes he had a blog back then.

The concept of outsourcing it all is interesting. I remember Steve Jobs making the same claim when he was CEO of NeXT. He raved about how awesome it was to have his NeXTstation at home in Palo Alto with a T1 connection to his office. He raved about how he didn’t have to worry about backups since the IT guys at the office had all of his data on some expensive redundant NFS servers.

Now, we are here in the 2000’s soon to be to the 2010’s. As the tech people look around, they don’t notice too many changes. However, if you look at the user side of the house, more and more people are doing everything completely on the web. The browser is definitely the modern day 3270 (I used to call HTTP/HTML the VT100 of the 90’s, but the 3270 is definitely a better analogy).

If the only application that people use is the browser, it would be pretty safe to say that Ken was right.

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