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Ray Noorda Dead at 82

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | 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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His obituary (5, Informative)

Kangburra (911213) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374731)

is here []

Re:His obituary (-1, Flamebait)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374903)

The obituary failed to mention that Netware was dead. Or was that in a different part of the newspaper?

Re:His obituary (1)

Crazy Eight (673088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376343)

Thanks for the feedback jackass.

Re:His obituary (-1, Troll)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16377235)

You're welcome! :P

Re:His obituary (1)

Koriani (869587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16395103)

Ummm. . .
"Raymond John Noorda, age 82, passed away in his home in Orem, Utah on October 9, 2006 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that mean he died?

Re:His obituary (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397267)

I was referring to Netware (Network Operating System) as not being mentioned as dead since Novell is/was/maybe upgrading all its Netware users to Linux. (It's a joke!) Of course, if the man himself had Alzheimer's Disease, his "wetware" would've died a long time ago.

I'm amazed that nobody said (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16386173)

"Truly an American icon."

His involvement with the UniXware purchase? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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:His involvement with the UniXware purchase? (2, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375749)

"Does anyone happen to know what his involvement was, if any, with Novell's purchase of UnixWare from AT&T?" []

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 the Devil's own brimstone combined. The next thing _less_ revolting than SCO is a pedophile rapist cannibal terrorist.


Re:His involvement with the UniXware purchase? (2, Interesting)

eer (526805) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376383)

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 with NetWare to create a kick-ass application server to counter the emergent Windows NT vision. Recall that UNIX had split into two camps - ATT/SUN and IBM/DEC/HP - but they were starting to work together better.

Novell had great ties to IBM. Novell got along okay with HP. Novell got along great with AT&T.

This was also the period in which Chorus and MACH micro-kernels were making great strides in getting attention from OS vendors.

Well, there was one proposal to bring things together around a micro-kernel. There was even a chance to bring OS/2 into the grand unification effort.

But it was too much - too many conflicting performance / security / legacy issues to deal with. The technologists couldn't bring themselves to make all the compromises necessary for such a combination to succeed.

In the end, Novell realized the unification wouldn't happen, and split up UNIX, selling part to HP and the distribution rights to the old SCO, who needed it to upgrade their OpenServer products (I think).

The rest, as they say, is history - Linux ascendent, SCO sold their name and UNIX distribution rights to Caldera (a Novell spinoff, funded by Ray Noorda). Caldera management changes then led to their ill-advised resurrection of the SCO name and disasterous law suit against IBM and Novell.

Re:His involvement with the UniXware purchase? (1)

emamousette (871456) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376473)

Question: You said
But it was too much - too many conflicting performance / security / legacy issues to deal with. The technologists couldn't bring themselves to make all the compromises necessary for such a combination to succeed.

How much of that can be laid at the feet of Drew "I know how many clock cycles a file i/o takes" Major's [] death grip on Netware's kernel code?

Very little: Univel was a joint venture (1)

tlambert (566799) | more than 7 years ago | (#16380793)

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 president", which was Ad Rietveld (former WordPerfect president and CEO), Mary Burnside (Novell's COO up to that point) and Jim Tolonen (Novell's COO up to that point).

After the purchase of USL, Noorda's legacy, "coopetetition" - start several groups working on solving a problem at the same time, and run with whatever ends up actually being best - was pretty much all but gutted by the USL management.

Bryan Sparks and Ransome Love actually went off and started Caldera with their own funds by selling a number of large parcels of land they had bought a while before that, and it was only after they had kicked in their own money that Noorda came along with Canopy and funded them. They left because there was a lot of NIH going around after the USL purchase, and they weren't allowed to work on the product they wanted to build, so they started a skunk works internally, and went outside when the former USL management started getting all competing projects cancelled.

-- Terry

I blame... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16374809)

...the Jews.

GNAA for frosty pizzle! w00t!

Last post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16374877)

Had to be said.

Uh, who died...? (0, Troll)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374893)

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.

Re:Uh, who died...? (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376595)

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 (3, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374907)

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.

Re:Canopy && Caldera (1)

SinGunner (911891) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375081)

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. :)

Danger, Will Robinson! Math error alert!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16392451)

Assuming the average lifespan to be 80 (not even close), that could also mean 730 poor schmucks would be condemned to die at age 79 years, 364 days. Alternatively, 365 poor schmucks could be condemned to die at age 78 years, 364 days. Your answer is only true if 80 is the median lifespan ;)

Re:Danger, Will Robinson! Math error alert!!! (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428125)

Oh, well of course I meant the median average. Wasn't that obvious to the most casual observer??

RIP (4, Interesting)

BrynM (217883) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374959)

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.

Re:RIP (1)

Son.Of.Dad (1010199) | more than 7 years ago | (#16377309)

Well stated.

I worked in a similar setup in that timeframe and we used Netware to fill in the blanks that MS couldn't/didn't provide at the time.


An old Ray Story (5, Interesting)

Rey Willie (932990) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

That's weird! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16375351)

why would it take him that long to pay off his mortgage? It doesnt make any sense. please explain

Re:That's weird! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16375415)

why would it take him that long to pay off his mortgage? It doesnt make any sense. please explain

Have you really so little to think of that you're reduced to asking questions like this?

Re:That's weird! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16375855)


Networking (1, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375221)

If he was such a networking guru, you would have thought he'd set his TTL a little higher.

omg lol!!... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16375295) are a true Noord icon!.. ;P

Re:Networking (1)

yuriismaster (776296) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375531)

Wow.... that would definitely qualify for the most offensive, yet poignant joke that I've seen for quite a while. Well done, jerk :-p

Re:Networking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16376279)

I thought it was funny and fail to see what was offensive about it. We had all the bullshit morality about death being completely taboo when Steve Irwin took a barb. In the dying words of Edmund Gwenn, "dying is easy, comedy is difficult".

If someone wanted to be outright offensive, they'd avoid a relatively innocent quip and make a derogatory remark tying together Noorda's alzheimers, his daughters suicide and the SCO case.

Re:Networking (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376373)

Yeah, I worded it poorly, and in retrospect, I regret posting it.

Best wishes to Mr. Noorda's family, friends, and colleges.

Re:Networking (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16379993)

Don't regret it. It was funny.

Re:Networking (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16385265)

It was, but I could have said it in a much funnier, more respectful way.

Netware confirms it (-1, Troll)

Riktov (632) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375279)

Ray Noorda is dead. Netware confirms it.

Re:Netware confirms it (-1, Flamebait)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375915)

It's "Netcraft", you stupid ass.


Re:Netware confirms it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16375959)

Whoooooosh! I think you must be new here.

Vaya con Dios, Ray (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376345) certainly did shape my career, and therefore my entire life.

Ray Noorda, chaos demon (2, Informative)

Allen Varney (449382) | more than 7 years ago | (#16377661)

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 [] and WordPerfect. Noorda's Novell bought WordPerfect for $855 million [] 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" [] , 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 [] , 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.

Re:Ray Noorda, chaos demon (1)

Budenny (888916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16380219)

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 relationship, its just gone, but they do have the ability to produce more or less appropriate social gestures.

So probably quite a bit before 1994, Mr Noorda's performance was substantially affected by his illness.

A terrible fate for a gifted individual.

Re:Ray Noorda, chaos demon (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 7 years ago | (#16411999)

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.

Don't worry Ray (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16380609)

We'll crush the evil bastards!
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