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Gary Kildall and the 40th Anniversary of the Birth of the PC Operating System


[Copyright Tom O’Neal, Carmel Valley CA]

David Laws of the Computer History Museum has written a lovely history of UW CSE Ph.D. alum Gary Kildall’s seminal role in the PC revolution:

“Late one afternoon in the fall of 1974, in the sleepy California seaside town of Pacific Grove, programmer Gary Kildall and electronic engineer John Torode [also a UW CSE Ph.D. alum] ‘retired for the evening to take on the simpler task of emptying a jug of not-so-good red wine … and speculating on the future of our new software tool.’  By successfully booting a computer from a floppy disk drive, they had just given birth to an operating system that, together with the microprocessor and the disk drive, would provide one of the three fundamental building blocks of the personal computer revolution. While they knew it was important, neither realized the extraordinary impact it would have on their lives and times.”

An IEEE Milestone plaque recognizing Gary’s contributions will be unveiled on Friday April 25 at 801 Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove, the home of Digital Research, Inc. (DRI).

photo_4_IEEE_plaque_2aa(In addition to Gary and John, who created CP/M, Tim Paterson, who created QDOS (which became 86-DOS, and then PC DOS, and then MS-DOS), was a UW CSE alum. “We were there.”)

Read David Laws’ wonderful account here.

Read a history of CP/M in Gary’s own words here.

Previous post with additional information here.