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Early small PC, notebook pioneer Tom West dies

updated 10:35 am EDT, Mon May 30, 2011

Became industry icon with his management style

Tom West, a pioneer in computing hardware, passed away last week. West was best known for leading the team that developed the Data General MV/8000, one of the computer industry's first and then widely used mini computers. He is also credited with championing DG's first full-screen laptops at a time when the category was still new.

West joined Data General in 1972. He led a group given the responsibility to develop a new generation of small mainframe computers to compete with Digital Equipment's VAX family. The VAX systems and MV/8000s evolved into a new class of computing hardware: the mini-computer.

West became most recognizable when his team's efforts were chronicled in Tracy Kidder's 1981 book Soul of a New Machine. The book looked at a then-new concept of the long hours in technology needed to push systems further. The book eventually became instrumental to management school.

He also encapsulated the idea of "pinball theory," or the concept that a company could 'win' but was just moving up to a higher, more difficult level.

West spent most of his professional career at DG, which was bought by EMC in 1999. [via Wall Street Journal]





By Electronista Staff
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