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LIO Fellow Ken Olsen, PC Inventor, Remembered

Posted on February 10, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Ken Olsen invented the Personal Computer, said "If you want to know the benefits and influence of Libertarian thinking, look at your computer." He helped reform of Communism, cell phone legalization; end phone government monopolies.

LIO Observer and Fellow Ken Olsen, who invented and evangelized the PC or Personal Computer--against first ridicule, then lies claiming he was against his own invention in people's homes-- to build a successful company (he had actually ridiculed government plans for a mandatory central mainframe to feed home users regulated by officials) and so revolutionize work and leisure habits everywhere, passed away. An obituary is at: http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/08/ken-olsen-dead-at-84-5-facts-about-the-digital-equipment-corp/?icid=sphere_tribune_latimes

 

Olsen had been an inactive Fellow some years before retirement, but unforgettably encouraged the LIO contact group in the mid-'70's that urged legislators to become aware of the many laws that blocked PC ownership and the creation of cell phones and what was later called the internet, such as prohibitions on attachments to phone lines and government forced phone monopolies that deadened innovation. He then organized teams that led his company to pioneer the Personal Computer on which you're reading this.

 

Microsoft's Gates and others developed their systems using Olsen's computers. He retired wealthy to dedicate himself to humanitarian causes, and predicted webs of computer users would work wonders in advancing voluntary programs and communities circumventing old institutions --from lending across borders to low-cost phone service to vast computer libraries immune to censorship and on call 24 hours, revolutionary predictions that seem obvious today.In later years, he suggested a fruitful path for research would lead to massive computer power in small devices the size of a watch or less even directly connected to the human nervous system.

 

At LIO's instance, he funded distribution of hundreds of thousands of copies of Libertarian literature behind the Iron Curtain and aided persons distributing small computers to activists there that were called essential in the reform of Communism to a more open system, despite considerable interference from the US Government and military extreme rightists.

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