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Ray Noorda, Father Of Network Computers, Dies

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Ray Noorda, the Novell Inc. founder who battled Microsoft Corp. in the early years of network computers, died Monday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 82.

Noorda, the so-called Father of Network Computing, had suffered from Alzheimer's for years and died at his modest home in Orem, 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, according to a statement from family members.

Noorda 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.

``Ray was one of the innovators of the Utah Miracle,'' Gov. Jon Huntsman said. ``He launched what would become Utah's technology sector. He has left behind a monumental legacy and we are all in his debt.''

Michael Dell, chairman of Dell Inc., and Kevin Rollins, Dell's president and chief executive, issued a joint statement praising Noorda as a pioneer of the computer age. They said his file-sharing program has become the de facto standard for the world's computers.

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Good-bye Mr. Noorda, I'll miss you.

He wasn't a developer. He was just a tough businessman with the nerve to take on Microsoft, which he saw as a threat to dominate the desktop long before everyone else did.

Linux and open-source owes Noorda another, more direct, debt.

When Novell bought Unix and USL (Unix Systems Laboratories) from AT&T, rather than continue to fight with BSDI (Berkeley Software Design Inc.) over possible Unix intellectual property rights violations in BSD/OS (an early, commercial BSD Unix), Noorda famously declared that he'd rather compete in the marketplace than in court, and the two sides came to an amiable agreement.

Without the threat of a lawsuit hanging over the BSD Unixes, and later Linux, open-source developers were free to create the operating systems we use today.

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