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Noorda’s file sharing concept became computer industry standard

Novell pioneer succumbs at age 82

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

OREM, Utah - Ray Noorda, widely known as the driving force behind Novell and the so-called "Father of Network Computing," died recently of complications from a debilitating disease. He was 82. According to Governor Jon Huntsman Noorda launched what would become Utah's technology sector and left behind a monumental legacy…”

Noorda, the third son of Dutch immigrant parents who hailed from Landsmeer, the Netherlands, became chief executive of Novell in 1983 and made it a software powerhouse, dominating the market for products that manage corporate networks and let individual computers share files and printers. However, Microsoft caught up by the mid-1990s.

Noorda, whom Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates once called the "grumpy grandfather" of technology, was bitter over Novell's failure to check Microsoft's power. He tried branching out in the early 1990s by investing in the Unix operating system, the WordPerfect word processor and other products to compete with dominant Microsoft products.

Those efforts failed, though, and Novell went into a decline from which it has yet to fully recover. Noorda retired from Novell in 1995 to open the Canopy Group, a venture capital firm.


According to officials of computer manufacturer Dell Noorda was a pioneer of the computer age. They said his file-sharing program has become the de facto standard for the world's computers.

Noorda who was born in 1924, in Ogden, Utah, attended a local college to join the Navy as a radar technician during World War II. He earned an engineering degree from the University of Utah in 1949, and later received honourary degrees from two such Utah schools.

At General Electric, where he worked for 21 years, Noorda gained a reputation for innovation. He subsequently worked for a succession of electronics companies in California before returning to Utah, where he turned a bankrupt company called Novell Data Systems into Novell Inc.

Family members said Noorda was motivated by the Depression to create as many jobs as he could support. Novell eventually grew to 12,000 employees from 17 when Noorda arrived. More recently, Novell has turned to developing software for the open source Linux operating system, trimmed jobs and moved headquarters to Waltham, Massachusetts, although it still keeps some operations in Provo, Utah.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Tye, four children and 13 grandchildren.