Saturday, April 16, 2016

Computer History Museum Honors Dave Cutler

Richard Eckel (via John Carmack, Hacker News):

Cutler, a Microsoft Senior Technical Fellow whose impressive body of work spans five decades and two coasts, will be honored Saturday evening as a Computer History Museum Fellow, along with Lee Felsenstein, the designer of the Osborne 1, the first mass-produced portable computer; and Philip Moorby, one of the inventors of the Verilog hardware description language.


Cutler, 74, who still comes to his office each day on Microsoft’s sprawling Redmond, Washington, campus, has shaped entire eras: from his work developing the VMS operating system for Digital Equipment Corporation in the late ‘70s, his central role in the development of Windows NT – the basis for all major versions of Windows since 1993 – to his more recent experiences in developing the Microsoft Azure cloud operating system and the hypervisor for Xbox One that allows the console to be more than just for gaming.


One of the toughest challenges was testing the system. Early on, the team decided it didn’t have the resources necessary to write a comprehensive test suite. Instead, they opted for a dynamic stress system, which put a severe load on the overall system. Every night the team ran stress tests on hundreds of machines. The next morning the team would arrive at the office, triage the failures and identify the bugs for the daily 9 a.m. bug-review meeting.


I had the privilege to work on the windows kernel team in the NT5 then XP days. I really wish they could share some of his code. it was the cleanest, well segmented, and commented code I’ve ever seen. it made the system much more maintainable and understandable, in areas that are inherently complex. great interfaces with a clear understanding of what was going in and coming out. and it helped all the other devs raise their game.

Dave Cutler:

I have this little saying that the successful people in the world are the people that do the things that the unsuccessful ones won’t. So I’ve always been this person that, you know…I will build the system, I will fix the bugs, I will fix other people’s bugs, I will fix build breaks. It’s all part of getting the job done.

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