CP/M Creator Gary Kildall’s Memoirs Released as Free Download

Gary Kildall’s story shows how he paved a path for the start-up culture, say his children

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CP/M operating system inventor Gary Kildall and his memoir.
Randi Klett Photo: Tom Munnecke/Getty Images; Journal: The Kildall Family/Computer History Museum

The year before his death in 1994, Gary Kildall—inventor of the early microcomputer operating system CP/M—wrote a draft of a memoir, “Computer Connections: People, Places, and Events in the Evolution of the Personal Computer Industry.” He distributed copies to family and friends, but died before realizing his plans to release it as a book.

This week, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, with the permission of Kildall’s children, released the first portion of that memoir. You can download it here.

Wrote Scott and Kristin Kildall in an introductory letter: “In this excerpt, you will read how Gary and Dorothy started from modest means as a young married couple, paved a new path for start-up culture, and embraced their idea of success to become leaders in the industry. Our father embodied a definition of success that we can all learn from: one that puts inventions, ideas, and a love of life before profits as the paramount goal.”

Later chapters, they indicated, did “not reflect his true self,” but rather his struggles with alcoholism, and will remain unpublished.

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The Unsung Inventor Who Chased the LED Rainbow

LEDs came only in shades of red—until George Craford expanded the palette

10 min read
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Man  with grey hair wearing dress shirt and tie standing in front of an LED stoplight and holding a panel with yellow and red LEDs glowing
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Walk through half a football field’s worth of low partitions, filing cabinets, and desks. Note the curved mirrors hanging from the ceiling, the better to view the maze of engineers, technicians, and support staff of the development laboratory. Shrug when you spot the plastic taped over a few of the mirrors to obstruct that view.

Go to the heart of this labyrinth and there find M. George Craford, R&D manager for the optoelectronics division of Hewlett-Packard Co., San Jose, Calif. Sitting in his shirtsleeves at an industrial beige metal desk piled with papers, amid dented bookcases, gym bag in the corner, he does not look like anybody’s definition of a star engineer.

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