Programmers At Work

March 27, 2008

Gary Kildall 1986-2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — sml @ 11:38 pm

“It’s fun sitting at a terminal and letting the code flow.”

“My pace varies during the development of the program. At some points the code gets explosive and I have everything inside my brain at one time; all the variable names and how they relate to one another, where the pointers start and where they end, disk access, et cetera. All sorts of things go on in my brain that I can’t put on paper simply because I’m always changing them.”

“The only time I don’t want to come back is when the code explodes. ”

“I also think programming is very much a religious experience for a lot of people.”

Gary Kildall was a brilliant programmer who worked hard and played hard. As evidence of his bright outlook he originally named his company  “Intergalactic Digital Research” and after he sold the company , he moved to Austin, Texas and lived the good life, flying, boating, and collecting sports cars.

Gary Kildall died in July 1994 in Monterey at the age of 52. The computer media, with a few small exceptions, ignored his passing. The circumstances of his death are somewhat mysterious and covered in this excellent article on wikipedia.  He is buried in Seattle where he grew up.

Gary was the first person to interface a disk system to a microcomputer and create an operating system for the personal computer. He changed what had previously been a circuit designed for process control applications into a fully functional computer. This enabled microcomputers to perform tasks previously done only on minicomputers and mainframes. The world changed dramatically because of his work.

The full interview is posted at the right. It was a wonderful conversation about how Gary got into the code flow.

1 Comment »

  1. THANK YOU for sharing your excellent interviews! It’s really fascinating to get a short, but deep look into the minds of many pioneers of computer science and IT. Gary provides an early, but accurate description of the Flow state.

    Comment by Julian — October 15, 2008 @ 9:56 pm | Reply

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