Toomre Capital Markets LLC

Real-Time Capital Markets -- Analytics, Visualization, Event Processing, and Intelligence

No Reason For PC at Home??

During his M.I.T. undergraduate days around 1980, Lars Toomre worked as a junior engineer for an iconic computer firm, Digital Equipment Corporation ("DEC"), in what then was its main engineering facility known as The Old Mill in Maynard, Massachusetts. Lars worked in a central engineering group then called Electrical Interconnect Engineering which was a firm-wide central resource for all mechanical issues involved in getting electricity from the power grid to the chip.

Although we did some work on the effectiveness of various connectors and contacts, most of our work centered on how to get heat away from the chips and printed circuit boards. This thermo-dynamics modeling work required extensive calculations on several PDP 11/70 mini-computers which were dedicated to the engineering group. In comparison to today's personal computers, those mini-computers were very rudimentary. However, in due time using the FORTRAN programming language, they did produce useful results. One wonders just how fast those same computer simulation models might run on today's laptops.

Shortly before Lars started working at DEC, Ken Olsen, the founder and President of DEC, pronounced at the 1977 World Future Society Convention, "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home." Partly as a result of Ken Olsen's view on the value of personal computers, DEC was slow to adapt to the personal computer era and the firm slowly withered thereafter before it eventually was sold to Compaq Computer.

Ken Olsen was somewhat blind to the transformational change that was about to over-take the computer industry in the early 1980s. Toomre Capital Markets LLC ("TCM") likewise wonders whether the senior managements of today's very large financial institutions fully understand the popular anger that is likely to change the way their firm's operate for a generation or more to come.