Gordon Bell

IRL Name: 
Gordon Bell

Gordon Bell was born on August 19, 1934 at Kirksville, Missouri. He joined Digital Equipment Corporation in 1960 and spent 23 years (1960-1983) there as Vice President of Research and Development. When he started at DEC, he immediately began promoting the PDP-1 as an example of a 'VW Beetle' of computing -- a mass market, inexpensive, moderately-fast computer and then architected various mini- and time-sharing computers, including the PDP-6. In addition to his work at DEC, Bell’s accomplishments include the architecting of machines at Encore, Ardent and Stardent; teaching computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (1966-78); writing books on computer design and entrepreneurship; and founding the National Science Foundation’s computing directorate.


He led the development of DEC’s VAX Computing Environment, one of the most successful family of computers of all time.

In 1979, Bell also co-founded (with Gwen Bell), The Computer Museum in Boston, the kernel from which The Computer History Museum has grown.

Bell holds B.S. (1956) and M.S. (1957) degrees in electrical engineering from MIT.