0184 - Digital Galway with John Sterne

Hosts: David Heskin and Allen Higgins

We are very pleased to have John Sterne, a technology journalist, historian and digital archivist, long involved in recording the social history of technology in Ireland: writing books, articles, press and online on the website techarchives.irish.

John, can we start by telling us a little about yourself and your vision for techarchives.irish?

So, today’s conversation, hopefully the first of many, we want to look at multiplier effects and spill-over benefits of having subsidiaries of multinational firms in based in your country.

To test these ideas, we are going back 30 years or so to when Digital came to Ireland. By Digital we mean the company, also known as DEC or Digital Equipment Corporation.

·       Let’s start with the DEC story, who were the main actors at the time?

·       Was DEC’s corporate culture different to its peers? (The distinctive culture inside a corporation run by 20th century engineers – not by investors or accountants)

·       And DEC’s products, did they deserve their reputation for innovation? 

·       How did Galway City, the West of Ireland, end up as the home for DEC’s European manufacturing operations centre? 

·       How many sites did DEC end up having in Ireland and what kinds of work were the Irish sites involved in?

·       How did DEC interact with the corporate and political scene in Ireland and Europe?

·       Was there a tradition of entrepreneurial talent emerging from DEC during the good years?

·       And then we arrive at 1993, DEC closes its Irish assembly plants after 22 years of operation. It must have been devastating…

·       A lot has been written positing the resilience and value of “Industrial Clusters”. What lessons were learnt in the wake of DEC’s closure?

·       And what did Digital itself think? What was the corporate view on reflection some years after the experience?


Well, John, we’ll wrap up there.

Thank you for taking the time to talk and for sharing your knowledge. Let’s do this again and continue the conversation…





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