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Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), at its peak the second largest computer company in the world, was co-founded by a University of Illinois-trained computer engineer, Harlan E. "Andy" Anderson.

Anderson's innovations in computer science influenced an entire generation of high-tech entrepreneurs including Microsoft's Bill Gates, Apple Computer's Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, Lucus Films and Pixar's Alvy Ray Smith, and numerous others.

In Learn, Earn & Return:  My Life as a Computer Pioneer, Anderson writes for the first time about his experiences at DEC during the company's initial decade, and the events that led to his leaving in 1966 -- the same year that DEC became one of the most profitable initial public offerings in Wall Street's history.

Anderson is candid about his relationship with DEC co-founder Ken Olsen: the friendship and vision the shared for their new company early on, and later, how Olsen's autocratic leadership style alienated some of the company's most talented engineers, and ultimately contributed to Anderson's departure.

Later, after serving nearly four years as Science Advisor for Time, Inc. where he sought to counsel executives on technological advances in publishing, Anderson embarked on a successful career in venture capital, commercial real estate development and other entrepreneurial pursuits.

Together with his wife, the former Lois Jean Kahl, Anderson has endowed and held leadership positions with civic, cultural, and academic institutions as diverse as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Renselear Polytechnic Institute, the University of Illinois' College of Engineering, and numerous local community organizations.

In these and other ways, Anderson's life story is emblematic of what it means to "learn, earn, and return."


-- Christopher Hartman