Phil Katz

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Creator of zip file format

Phillip Walter Katz (November 3, 1962 – April 14, 2000) was a computer programmer best-known as the co-creator of the zip file format for data compression, and the author of PKZIP, a program for creating zip files which ran under DOS.



Phil Katz graduated from University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee with a bachelor's degree in computer science.[1] Following his graduation, Katz was hired by Allen-Bradley Co. as a programmer. He wrote code to run programmable logic controllers which operated manufacturing equipment on shop floors worldwide for Allen-Bradley's customers.


Katz left Allen-Bradley in 1986 to work for Graysoft, a Milwaukee-based software company. At the time, he had worked on an alternative to Thom Henderson's ARC, named PKARC. ARC was written in C, with the source code available on System Enhancement Associates' BBS. PKARC, written partially in assembly language, was much faster (in that era, compilers were not as good at optimization as they would become in the 21st century[citation needed]). Katz had a special flair for optimizing code. Besides writing critical code in assembly language, he would write C code to perform the same task in several different ways and then examine the compiler output to see which produced the most efficient assembly code. He initially publicly released only PKXARC, an extraction program, as freeware. Its much greater speed caused it to spread very quickly throughout the BBS community. Strong positive feedback and encouragement from the community prompted Katz to first add his compression program, PKARC, and eventually to make his software shareware. In 1986 he founded PKWARE, Inc., while the company's operations were done in his home in Glendale, Wisconsin,[2] but Katz did not leave Graysoft until 1987. Steve Burg, a former Graysoft programmer, joined PKWARE in 1988.

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