The Man who could have been Bill Gates (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.
Following the announcement of Kildall's death, Bill Gates commented that he was "one of the original pioneers of the PC revolution" and "a very creative computer scientist who did excellent work. Although we were competitors, I always had tremendous respect for his contributions to the PC industry. His untimely death was very unfortunate and his work will be missed."
In March 1995, Kildall was posthumously honored by the Software Publishers Association (now the Software and Information Industry Association) for his contributions to the microcomputer industry:
- The first programming language and first compiler specifically for microprocessors: PL/M. (1973)
- The first microprocessor disk operating system, which eventually sold a quarter of a million copies: CP/M. (1974)
- The first successful open system architecture by segregating system-specific hardware interfaces in a set of BIOS routines. (1975)
- Creation of the first diskette track buffering schemes, read-ahead algorithms, file directory caches, and RAM disk emulators.
- Introduction of operating systems with preemptive multitasking and windowing capabilities and menu-driven user interfaces (with Digital Research): MP/M, Concurrent CP/M, Concurrent DOS, DOS Plus, FlexOS, GEM, ViewMAX.
Introduction of a binary recompiler in the 1980s: XLT86
- The first computer interface for video disks to allow automatic nonlinear playback, presaging today's interactive multimedia. (1984, with Activenture)
- The file system and data structures for the first consumer CD-ROM. (1985, with KnowledgeSet)
In April 2014, the city of Pacific Grove installed a commemorative plaque outside Kildall's former residence, which also served as the early headquarters of Digital Research.