Cutler at work on Windows Azure
March 13, 1942 |
Lansing, Michigan, USA
|Occupation||Senior Technical Fellow at Microsoft|
David Neil Cutler, Sr. (born March 13, 1942) is an American software engineer, designer and developer of several operating systems including RSX-11M, VMS and VAXELN at Digital Equipment Corporation and Windows NT at Microsoft.
Personal history 
David Cutler was born in Lansing, Michigan and grew up in DeWitt, Michigan. After graduating from Olivet College in 1965, Cutler went to work for DuPont. One of his tasks was developing and running computer simulations on Digital machines. He developed an interest in operating systems and left DuPont to pursue that interest.
Cutler's software career started at a small company he founded called Agrippa-Ord, located in Monument Square, Concord, Massachusetts (or possibly in Acton, Massachusetts), marketing software for the LINC and PDP-8 computers.
David Cutler summarised his own career in the foreword to Inside Windows NT.
In addition to his engineering skills, Cutler is known for his sardonic humor. Sometimes even his error messages turn out to have a double meaning.
In April 1975, Digital began a hardware project, code-named Star, to design on a 32-bit virtual address extension to its PDP-11. In June 1975, Cutler, together with Dick Hustvedt and Peter Lippman, were appointed the technical project leaders for the software project, code-named Starlet, to develop a totally new operating system for the Star family of processors. These two projects were tightly integrated from the beginning. The three technical leaders of the Starlet project together with three technical leaders of the Star project formed the "Blue Ribbon Committee" at Digital who produced the fifth design evolution for the programs. The design featured simplifications to the memory management and process scheduling schemes of the earlier proposals and the architecture was accepted. The Star and Starlet projects culminated in the development of the VAX-11/780 superminicomputer and the VAX/VMS operating system, respectively.
At DEC he is widely credited with having terminated the 1979-80 Desktop RSTS project and scrapping the manufacturing prototype. Compared to the subsequently announced IBM-PC, RSTS had 40,000 running applications, ANSI languages, and a DBMS. RSTS had a reputation as a robust, stable and reliable multi-user, multi-tasking operating system. RSTS also had a virtual operating mode that allowed it to faithfully emulate other operating systems such as RSX-11M and RT11.
Attitude towards Unix 
Cutler was also known for his disdain for all things Unix. His sardonic nature showed through in the VMS v Unix debates at DEC in the early 1980s. He would often show his low opinion by referring to the Unix process I/O model by reciting "getta byte, getta byte, getta byte byte byte" to the rhythm of the "cavalry charge" finale of Rossini's William Tell Overture.
Prism and Mica projects 
Digital began working on a new CPU using RISC design principles in 1986 and Cutler, who was then working in DEC's DECWest facility in Bellevue, Washington, was selected to head Prism, a project to develop the company’s RISC machine. Its operating system, code named Mica, was to embody the next generation of design principles and have a compatibility layer for Unix and VMS. The RISC machine was to be based on ECL technology, and was one of three ECL projects Digital was undertaking at the time.
Funding the R&D costs of multiple ECL projects yielding products that would ultimately compete against each other was a strain. Of the three ECL projects, the VAX 9000 was the only one that was directly commercialized. Primarily because of the early successes of the PMAX advanced development project and the need for differing business models, Prism was canceled in 1988 in favor of PMAX.
Prism later surfaced as the basis of DEC's Alpha family of computer systems.
Windows NT 
Cutler left Digital for Microsoft in October 1988 and led the development of Windows NT. Later, he worked on targeting Windows NT to Digital's 64-bit Alpha architecture (itself based on the Prism design), then on Windows 2000. After the demise of Windows on Alpha (and the demise of DEC), Cutler was instrumental in porting Windows to AMD's new 64-bit AMD64 architecture. He was officially involved with the Windows XP Pro 64-bit and Windows Server 2003 SP1 64-bit releases. He moved to working on Microsoft's Live Platform in August 2006. Dave Cutler was awarded the prestigious status of Senior Technical Fellow at Microsoft.
Windows Azure 
At the 2008 Professional Developers Conference, Microsoft announced Azure Services Platform, a cloud-based operating system which Microsoft is developing. During the conference keynote, Cutler was mentioned as a lead developer on the project, along with Amitabh Srivastava.
As of January 2012, a spokesperson for Microsoft has confirmed that Cutler is no longer working on Windows Azure, and has since joined the Xbox team. No further information was provided as to what Cutler's role is, nor what he is working on within the team.
- Recognized among 2007 National Medal of Technology and Innovation Laureates, announced August 25, 2008 and which were awarded on September 29 in a White House ceremony.
- "2007 Microsoft Technical Recognition Award". Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved July 8, 2011. "Senior Technical Fellow David Cutler—recipient of the inaugural Microsoft Technical Recognition Award for Career Achievement—is the key technical brain behind the 50 million lines of code constituting Microsoft's flagship product, the Windows operating system."
- "David Cutler at the University of Washington". The University of Washington. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
- Custer, Helen (1993). "Foreword". Inside Windows NT.
- "The Leading Champ Car Atlantic Site on the Net". champcaratlantic.com. Retrieved 2012-05-03.
- "Professional Developers Conference 2008 Day 1 Keynote: Ray Ozzie, Amitabh Srivastava, Bob Muglia, Dave Thompson". Microsoft Press Release. October 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- "Microsoft confirms Dave Cutler, father of Windows NT, now working on Xbox".
- "U.S. Commerce Secretary Gutierrez Announces Technology Council". Uspto.gov. Retrieved 2012-05-03.
- "President Bush Presents 2007 National Medals of Science and Technology and Innovation". Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2012-05-03.
- Zachary, G. Pascal (1994). Showstopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft. Warner Books. ISBN 0-02-935671-7.