Harlan E. Anderson

Harlan E. Anderson
Harlan E. Anderson

Computer pioneer and co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, the world's first minicomputer company.

Harlan E. Anderson became interested in computers while taking programming courses for the ILLIAC I computer, which was under construction on campus in the 1950s. After graduating from illinois, Anderson joined the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Cambridge, where he worked with Ken Olsen. After a few years, he and Olsen co-founded Digital Equipment Corporation (Dec). At its peak, DEC was the second largest computer company in the world.

Early on, Anderson was active in professional societies and was General Chairman of the Eastern Joint Computer Conference in 1966, the largest professional meeting and exhibition of computer technology at the time. He also served as Director of Technology for Time, Inc., spearheading their evaluation of the future of print during the explosion of television and long before the internet existed.

He helped provide early stage financing for more than 20 small technology companies. He was a trustee of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for 16 years and provided endowment funding for the Lois J. and Harlan E. Anderson Center for Innovation in Undergraduate Education there. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of the  College of Engineering at the University of Illinois, where he provided endowment funding for the Lois J. and Harlan E. Anderson Laboratory for Global Education in Engineering.

Anderson is a trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. One of his interests is the study of the World War II work at Bletchley Park in England, where the German Enigma code was broken.


  • BS, Engineering Physics, 1951
  • MS, Physics, 1952