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SPA Award to Dr. Gary A.Kildall

1995 SPA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

March 13, 1995 (San Diego, CA) -- The Software Publishers Association honored Gary Kildall today for his vision and dedication to the software industry throughout his professional life. During the SPA's Tenth Annual Excellence in Software Awards (The Codies) Luncheon, Kildall was posthumously recognized with the Software Publishers Association's (SPA) Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually to an individual who during his or her lifetime made outstanding contributions to the computer software industry. Past winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award include Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Alan Kay, Steve Wozniak, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Dr. Seymour Papert, and Scott Cook. Members of the SPA nominated and selected the distinguished recipient of this award.

Kildall was a microcomputer-industry visionary. He conceived the products and debugged the code that has helped the microcomputer industry reach its full potential. Above all, Kildall shared his experience and enthusiasm for computers with others and wanted to make this technology available to everyone.

Kildall founded Digital Research, Inc. (DRI) in 1976, which is now part of Novell. Years ahead of its competitors, DRI introduced operating systems with windowing capability, pre-emptive multi-tasking, and menu-driven user interfaces. DRI also created the first diskette track buffering schemes, read-ahead algorithms, file directory caches, and RAM disk emulators. In the 1980's, DRI introduced a binary recompiler.

Kildall defined the first programming language and developed the first compiler specifically for microprocessors. PL/M is still widely used for developing dedicated microprocessor-based control applications. Kildall also created the first microprocessor operating system, CP/M, which eventually sold a quarter-million copies, becoming one of the highest-selling operating systems in its time.

Kildall developed an early arcade game and the first computer-controlled interface for video disks to allow automatic non-linear playback - the forerunner of today's interactive multimedia. He eventually developed the file system and data structures needed for the world's first consumer CD-ROM, an electronic encyclopedia.

Kildall's biggest contribution to the software industry was the first successful open-system architecture. Kildall isolated the system-specific hardware interfaces of his operating system within a set of "basic I/O system" routines, so applications code would be fully machine independent. This idea helped create the third-party software industry.

"Gary was a trailblazer for the computer industry. Every computer user out there owes him a thank-you for the components he developed," said the SPA Executive Director, Ken Wasch. "Gary Kildall's accomplishments in technology greatly enhance the software industry even today and will not be forgotten."

Kildall died on July 11, 1994 at the age of 52 in Monterey, CA. He is survived by his mother, a sister, and two children, Scott and Kristy, who were present in San Diego to accept the 1995 SPA Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of their father. The Software Publishers Association is the principal trade association of the PC software industry. Its 1,150 members represent the leading publishers in the business, consumer, and education markets. The SPA has offices in Washington, DC, and Paris, France. SPA press releases are available through CompuServe. (GO:SPAForum).

Copyright 1995 Software Publishers Association

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