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Ray Noorda Dead at 82 41

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the important-pieces-of-history dept.
HaeMaker writes to tell us that Ray Noorda passed away today at the age of 82. Noorda was best known for his leadership role at the helm of Novell Inc. Known to some as the "father of network computing" Noorda took the then small Novell from around 17 employees to well over 12,000.
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Ray Noorda Dead at 82

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  • His obituary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kangburra (911213) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @02:03AM (#16374731)
    is here [canopy.com]
    • "Truly an American icon."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @02:14AM (#16374797)
    Does anyone happen to know what his involvement was, if any, with Novell's purchase of UnixWare from AT&T?

    As a UnixWare administrator at the time, I had had great hopes for it. It was the premiere UNIX for x86 computers at the time, and the sale to Novell brought a lot of hope to a lot of people. Linux was just becoming strong, and the BSDs had just resumed again after the lawsuit. We were thinking that Novell would really push UnixWare, and attempt to make it become one of the most widely-used PC operating systems.

    Unfortunately, that did not happen. In many ways, that may have been a good thing. I personally think it was a bit saddening, as UnixWare was a rather fantastic system at the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bmo (77928)
      "Does anyone happen to know what his involvement was, if any, with Novell's purchase of UnixWare from AT&T?"

      http://www.sco.com/products/unixware714/ [sco.com]

      Since the lawsuits and the 1500 letters they sent out to major Linux users threatening them with lawsuits and Darl saying "Contracts are what you use against your customers," the market for UnixWare has dwindled to nothing. Your treasured UnixWare is attached to something that stinks like dead skunk, amorphophallus titanum, GAPO, rotten eggs, sewage, and th
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eer (526805)
      Recall that Novell had also promoted the GEM desktop as an alternative to Windows, and purchased DRI to get an alternative DOS operating system. I joined Novell in '94, before Ray left, after the Unixware deal. So I think adding UNIX to the mix, along with WordPerfect, was part of Ray's idea of how to build an across-the-board competitor to the Microsoft dominion. Later, after Ray left the reigns to Bob Frankenberg (moved over to Novell from HP), I think we over-reached.

      The dream was to combine UNIX wi

    • Very little: Univel was a joint venture between AT&T and Novell; they occupied the second floor of the Sandy, UT facility, just off 106th South just off I15 (I worked on NetWare for UNIX on the third floor of the same building).

      Ray was already pretty much out by then; he was still chairman of the board, but even then he was known to write himself notes when travelling so that he'd know what city he was in when he woke up in the morning.

      Novell's day to day operations were handled by "the office of the pr
  • The father of Netware died. Although I briefly knew of the technology and faced obscure questions on some of the certification exams that I took, I shuddered at the horror of working in such an environment. Then I reminded myself that I should consider myself fortunate that I missed out on Windows NT entirely. There are some things worse than death itself.
    • by Gr8Apes (679165)
      Missed out on Windows NT? You're still living in that world, with a relatively functional but extremely slow version of NDS bolted on top of it. (I'm assuming you're working with 2003 & XP) In many ways, NT was a lot simpler, since you just couldn't do large monolithic installations with it.
  • Canopy && Caldera (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @02:35AM (#16374907) Homepage
    I think that Ray saw that Novell's future was in Linux. That's why Canopy put money into Caldera. Unfortunately, the Novell culture couldn't make use of Linux, so Caldera got cut off and had to sink or swim on its own.

    I'm sorry to hear of Ray's death at age 82, but y'know, with an average lifespam of 80, that means that some poor schmuck is condemned to die at age 78.
    • I think you're a little off with the average lifespan. 80 is high even for Japanese women. If you're really worried so much about the balance though, I have a "Modest Proposal" that could give us a good bit of room to play around with on the upper end of the lifespan. Of course, some would argue that eating children would skew the average lifespan downwards, but by your succinct see-saw theory of average lifespans I see the potential for people to live hundreds of years with just a slight change in diet.
  • RIP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BrynM (217883) * on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @02:47AM (#16374959) Homepage Journal
    For all of the bad things that could be said of Netware (there were many), let's not forget that without it MS may have never advanced networking and infrastructure to the point they have (keep reading before you say "bah!"). Novell was THE competition for MS during the 90s. I worked in a blended NW/NT environment during the late 90s and from my vantage point the competition was fierce. For that, I say thank you. To those in doubt: Think of MS security then think of what it could have become without Novell as a competitor - shudder if you must. Rest well Ray.
  • An old Ray Story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rey Willie (932990) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @03:40AM (#16375169)
    I'm sorry to see Ray go. I knew Ray back in the mid to late 1990s when he was still very active as Chairman of a company for which I once worked. A couple of little things come to mind. I remember one time when he came in for a board meeting very excited. He just made the last mortgage payment on his house, which, to my information, was worth about $150K. Yet, this billionaire was thrilled. He also used to like making the execs take him to Sizzler (the old steak house chain), where he could get the senior citizen discount. This was not designed to make the Southern California sales suits happy, but he sure seemed to enjoy it.

    It's a shame that, IMHO, certain people took advantage of him as his intellect started to slip, and no parent should have to outlive his own daughter. Still, he was a giant in his day, and he funded a lot of startups while never being personally greedy (at least that I saw).

    I am glad to have known him.

  • Networking (Score:1, Funny)

    by MarkRose (820682)
    If he was such a networking guru, you would have thought he'd set his TTL a little higher.
    • Wow.... that would definitely qualify for the most offensive, yet poignant joke that I've seen for quite a while. Well done, jerk :-p
      • by MarkRose (820682)
        Yeah, I worded it poorly, and in retrospect, I regret posting it.

        Best wishes to Mr. Noorda's family, friends, and colleges.
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Don't regret it. It was funny.
  • ...you certainly did shape my career, and therefore my entire life.
  • by Allen Varney (449382) on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @10:30AM (#16377661) Homepage

    I can't believe these obituaries for Ray Noorda highlight his supposed business skill, when he rode Novell straight into the ground and singlehandedly destroyed both Digital Research [ctyme.com] and WordPerfect. Noorda's Novell bought WordPerfect for $855 million [findarticles.com] in June 1994, when its word processor, formerly the industry standard, was struggling and needed smart management. After Noorda left the company, Novell promptly sold WordPerfect to Corel in January 1996 for 10 million shares of Corel stock and $11 million in cash -- that's right, an $800 million loss in 18 months. Meanwhile, WordPerfect's market share had totally collapsed.

    An October 2000 article in Computer Business Review Online, "Why Companies Fail" [cbronline.com], discusses Noorda's reign:

    "[M]anagement monomania is perhaps the most insidious and avoidable trap. The company that has shown damagingly obsessive behaviour has been network operating system company, Novell. CEO and founder Ray Noorda, after failed takeover talks with Microsoft, became obsessed with the fact that Microsoft was trying to destroy his company - a focus that became so intense, ex-Microsoft CTO Nathan Myrvold dubbed him 'Captain Ahab' in 1993.
    "Even though Novell had successfully fought off Microsoft in its core network operating system business for five years, Noorda decided that he had to take direct aim at the industry's Moby Dick. He bought 20 companies, including Digital Research (an operating systems company), Unix System Laboratories and office suite developer WordPerfect (subsequently sold to equally mismanaged Corel) over a three-year period. Even after Noorda retired in 1994, and his successor had divested most of his acquisitions, Novell was damaged beyond repair. [...] Novell fatally lost direction under Noorda, let its core products lapse and ceded market dominance. Since then it has suffered a steady decline."

    Of course, Noorda also found the Canopy Group [wikipedia.org], of which the less said the better.

    Noorda achieved some great things, but for much of his latter career he was a force for chaos and destruction.

    • by Budenny (888916)
      Alzheimers has effects on judgment and personality of a fairly subtle sort quite a long time before the symptoms are so severe that you would start thinking the sufferer is 'demented'. As the mental functions deteriorate, people become quite expert at covering. There is a stage at which you can feel that the person is becoming a sort of shell of stereotypical responses, and have also the feeling that they're denying real contact. Actually what is happening is that they can no longer function in the relat
      • by iggymanz (596061)
        I for one am glad that I have no social gestures or skills to lose. And I've always been absent-minded anyone because the mundane things of everyday life aren't interesting enough compared to science/engineering things for me to waste much brain effort on them. So, like most slashdotters, if I ever get Alzheimers or other senile affliction no ones even going to notice, the change will be so small.
  • We'll crush the evil bastards!

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