SALT LAKE CITY -- Ray Noorda, the
Mr. Noorda, dubbed the father of network computing, had had 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.
Mr. 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. But Microsoft caught up by the mid-1990s.
Mr. Noorda, whom Microsoft chairman Bill Gates once called the ``grumpy grandfather" of technology, was bitter over Novell's failure to check Microsoft's power. He tried branching out in the early 1990s by investing in the Unix operating system, the WordPerfect word processor, and other products to compete with dominant Microsoft products.
Those efforts failed, and Novell went into a decline from which it has yet to fully recover. The company moved its headquarters to Waltham, Mass., in 2004.
Mr. Noorda retired from Novell in 1995 to open The Canopy Group, a capital venture firm.
``Ray was one of the innovators of the Utah Miracle," Governor 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 Mr. Noorda as a pioneer of the computer age. They said his file-sharing program has become the standard for the world's computers.
``He was known for letting anyone make a mistake once, as long as they got it right the next time," Dell and Rollins said.
Mr. Noorda was born in Ogden, Utah, the third son of Dutch immigrants. He attended Weber State College in Ogden but left to join the Navy as a radar technician during World War II. He earned an engineering degree from the University of Utah in 1949.
Mr. Noorda worked for
Family members said Mr. Noorda was motivated by the Depression to create as many jobs as he could support. Novell eventually grew to 12,000 employees from 17 when Mr. Noorda arrived.
Mr. Noorda leaves his wife of 56 years, Tye, four children, and 13 grandchildren.