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  • Writer's pictureJohn Debrincat

Max Burnet OAM - a Legend of Technology

Max Burnet OAM - a Technology Legend

The Australia Day honours this year included an OAM (Order of Australia general division) for Maxwell McKay Burnet. He was a visionary in the realm of information technology and unfortunately passed away in 2023, leaving behind a legacy that has significantly shaped the digital world. His contributions spanned various facets of IT, demonstrating a rare blend of technical prowess and innovative thinking.

The ACS Foundation had the opportunity to work with Max and to help carry on his legacy with our annual Legends of Technology luncheons.

Max began his career at Weapons Research Establishment in South Australia as a Scientific Officer.

Max is probably best known to many of us as a long-standing employee of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).

Protecting the Past

We also remember Max for collecting and preserving thousands of artifacts from Australia’s computer industry history.

Education and Mentorship

Beyond his technical achievements, Max was also known for his commitment to education. He frequently lectured at universities, sharing his knowledge and inspiring a new generation of IT professionals. His mentorship programs helped nurture young talents, many of whom have gone on to make significant contributions to the tech industry.

Philanthropy and Industry Impact

Max’s vision was for a more inclusive and diverse tech industry, a goal he tirelessly worked towards.

Maxwell McKay Burnet's passing marks the end of an era in information technology. However, his innovations, teachings, and visionary approach to technology and its societal impact will continue to influence the field for years to come. His legacy is not just in the technologies he helped create but in the more connected and technologically empowered world he envisioned and worked towards.

Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division

The Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) is awarded for service worthy of particular recognition.
OAM Medal - Image from the Governor General website

Mr Maxwell McKay Burnet (OAM) for service to the community through a range of roles. The Order of Australia recognises Australians who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement.

Melbourne University Sydney Alumni Association

  • Former Secretary, several years.

  • Pearcey Hall of Fame, 2006.

  • Member, since 1985.

Hornby Railway Collectors Association of Australia

  • Secretary, 17 years.

  • Hall of Fame, 2006.

  • Life Member.

Professional Associations

  • Founding Member, Australian Computer Museum Society.

  • Life Member, Digital Equipment Computer Users' Society.


  • Owner, Burnet Antique Computer Knowhow, since 1998.

  • Various Managerial Positions, Digital Equipment Corporation Australia, 1967-1997.

  • Scientific Officer, WRE Adelaide, 1963-1967.


  • Life Member, Western District Athletic Club South Australia.


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