In a day when a computer filled an entire room and consumed enough electricity to power over 100 households, one man founded a company, became “America’s Most Successful Entrepreneur,” and ultimately, put his employees first. “Digital_Man/Digital_World” tells his story.
Digital_Man/Digital_World, a documentary film created by Televerse Productions of Indianapolis and Covenant Productions at Anderson University, has been named as an official selection in the 2011 Heartland Film Festival based in Indianapolis.
The film, underwritten by Gordon College, tells the story of Ken Olsen, who, in 1957, founded Digital Equipment Corporation with $75,000 of venture capital. It was a time when computers were inaccessible to most businesses and to nearly all individuals. Olsen and Digital changed all of that - making computers smaller, less expensive, and more accessible. His innovative approach to both computers and business revolutionized the industry. Over the next 35 years, Digital grew to $14 billion in annual revenues and globally employed 140,000 employees.
In 1986, Fortune magazine selected Olsen as “America’s Most Successful Entrepreneur” and featured him on its cover.
Less well-known, though, is the fact that Olsen was a man who cared more about his employees than even his company. Through interviews with former Digital employees, consultants, admirers and even critics of Olsen, viewers learn about Olsen’s deep concern for the well-being of his employees, which ultimately, led to his forced resignation as president of Digital. Within a few years, what remained of Digital was sold off. Yet, despite this and Olsen’s death in 2011, the Digital culture and spirit lives on, with employees gathering for reunions and actively shaping the major computer companies of today.
Digital_Man/Digital_World was made possible by a grant from Gordon College, Wenham, Mass., where Ken Olsen was a board member. Gordon College is also the home of the Kenneth H. Olsen Archives.