Dave Cutler (software engineer)

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David Neil Cutler, Sr. (born March 13, 1942) is an American software engineer, designer and developer of several operating systems including the RSX-11M, VMS and VAXELN systems of Digital Equipment Corporation and Windows NT of 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.

Cutler holds over 20 patents and is an affiliate professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Washington.

David Cutler usefully summarised his own career in the foreword [1] 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.

David is also an avid auto racing driver. He has previously competed in the Atlantic Championship from 1996 to 2002, scoring a career best of 8th on the Milwaukee Mile in 2000.


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, Dave 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.

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