Technology How CP/M Launched the Next 50 Years of Operating Systems

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Aug 17, 2017
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PC software pioneer Gary Kildall demonstrated CP/M, the first commercially successful personal computer operating system in Pacific Grove, California, in 1974. Following is the story of how his company, Digital Research Inc., established CP/M as an industry standard and its subsequent loss to a version from Microsoft that copied the look and feel of the DRI software.

Gary Arlen Kildall was born to a family of Scandinavian descent in Seattle, Washington, in 1942. His inventive skills flourished in repairing automobiles and having fun but suffered in scholastic pursuits. He qualified for admission to the University of Washington based on his teaching experience at the family-owned Kildall Nautical School rather than his high school grades.

Gary entered college and married his high school sweetheart Dorothy McEwen in 1963. He was one of 20 students accepted into the university's first master's program in computer science. Here, his mathematical talents were applied to a subject that fascinated him: all-night sessions programming a new Burroughs computer. To avoid the uncertainty of the draft at the height of the Vietnam War, on graduating with a PhD, he entered a US Navy officer training school and was posted to serve as an instructor in computer science at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California.
 

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