Gary Kildall

Gary Kildall

Gary Arlen Kildall (May 19, 1942 July 11, 1994) was an American computer scientist and microcomputer entrepreneur who created the CP/M operating system and founded Digital Research, Inc. (DRI). Kildall was one of the first people to see microprocessors as fully capable computers rather than equipment controllers and to organize a company around this concept. He also co-hosted the PBS TV show The Computer Chronicles. Although his career in computing spanned more than two decades, he is mainly remembered in connection with IBM's unsuccessful attempt in 1980 to license CP/M for the IBM PC.

When the IBM Personal Computer was being developed, DR was asked to supply a version of CP/M written for the Intel 8086 microprocessor as the standard operating system for the PC, which used the code-compatible Intel 8088 chip. DR, which had the dominant OS system of the day, was uneasy about the agreement with IBM and refused, Microsoft seized this opportunity to supply the OS in addition to other software (e.g. Basic) for the new IBM PC. When the IBM PC arrived in late 1981, it came with PC-DOS, which was developed from 86-DOS, which Microsoft acquired for this purpose. By mid-1982, it was marketed as MS-DOS for use in hardware compatible non-IBM computers. This one decision resulted in Microsoft becoming the leading name in computer software. This story is detailed in the PBS series Triumph of the Nerds.

Digital Research developed CP/M-86 as an alternative to MS-DOS and it was made available through IBM in early 1982. DR later created an MS-DOS clone with advanced features called DR-DOS, which pressured Microsoft to further improve its own DOS. The competition between MS-DOS and DR-DOS is one of the more controversial chapters of microcomputer history. Microsoft offered the best licensing terms to computer manufacturers that committed to selling MS-DOS with every processor they shipped, making it uneconomical for them to offer both systems. This practice led to a 1994 government antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft that barred it from per-processor licensing. DRI (and later its successor Caldera Systems) accused Microsoft of announcing vaporware versions of MS-DOS to suppress sales of DR-DOS. Microsoft refused to support DR-DOS in Windows; in one beta release of Windows, Microsoft included code that detected DR-DOS and displayed a warning message. DRI's successor Caldera Systems raised these disputes in a 1996 lawsuit, but the case was settled without a trial. As a condition of the settlement Microsoft paid Caldera $150 million and Caldera destroyed all documents it had produced in connection with the case.


Historical Timeline for Gary Kildall :

Date Event
1973 Gary Kildall writes CP/M
1975 CP/M operating system finished

 

 

 

 
Photograph of Gary Kildall Click for a larger version

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