Another former DEC employee
DEC was my first job out of school in the '70's. I had interviewed with IBM (amongst others) but was turned down for my grades being too low. DEC hired me because I had a bunch of real-world design experience while I was in college. I'd also been responsible for the maintenance of the Chem dept's PDP-8/i and was an operator for the engineering department's PDP-8/e.
My first job was working on the memory and memory management for the 11/44. One day I was cussing out the board, looking at timing issues, when I hear this guy behind me say, "What's wrong?" Without looking up, I said, "Oh this damn memory timing is off," while turning around, and there's Ken Olsen and Gordon Bell, doing their walk-around the Mill labs. They were then doing the "oh have you checked XXX?" and "let's hook another scope up to the row lines and see the timing there." I've never worked in another large company where the CEO was grabbing test leads and looking at debugging information!
As I said, I worked primarily on the 44. I also worked a little on the still-born 11/68 (11/60 upgrade) and the 11/74 (multiprocessor 11/70 system, basically 4 cooperative 11/70s). We used to love the 11/60 because you could rewrite the microcode and mess with people's heads! :) We also used to sit down the hall from the RSX guys, and would cadge source code so we could put hacks on our 11/70 development system to annoy our fellow engineers. Good times.
One last story. While on the 11/44 project, the lead came to me and said, "You're the young kid, you know hardware and software. We have these oddballs coming in to test their operating system on the platform. If that goes well, they'll buy these." The "oddballs" were people from Bell Labs, running Unix on the 44. I learned a lot about Unix working with them; I've been parlaying that knowledge into work for the past 30-something years!
I was supposed to go work on what became the VAX 11-730, but I was young and left the company to do other things. I ended up back there 20 or so years later as a consultant but that's a story for another day. I still have all my PDP-11 manuals and some of the software/OS "helper cards".