Cutler at work on Microsoft Azure (2008)
|Occupation||Senior Technical Fellow at Microsoft|
|Known for||Development of several widely-used commercial operating systems|
David Neil "Dave" Cutler Sr. (born March 13, 1942) is an American software engineer, a designer, and a developer of several operating systems in the computer industry. These operating systems are Microsoft Windows NT, and Digital Equipment Corporation: RSX-11M, VAXELN, VMS (now OpenVMS).
Cutler is a member of Adelphic Alpha Pi Fraternity at Olivet College, Michigan.
Cutler's first exposure to computers came when he was tasked to perform a computer simulations model for one of DuPont's customers using IBM's GPSS-3 language on an IBM model 7044. This work led to an interest in how computers and their operating systems worked.
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In April 1975, Digital began a hardware project, code-named Star, to design a 32-bit virtual address extension to its PDP-11. In June 1975, Cutler, together with Dick Hustvedt and Peter Lipman, 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.
Digital began working on a new CPU using RISC design principles in 1986. Cutler, who was 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 Research and Development (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 Digital's Alpha family of computer systems.
Cutler is known for his disdain for all things Unix. His sardonic nature showed through in the VMS versus Unix debates at Digital in the early 1980's. He expressed his low opinion of the Unix process input/output model by reciting "Get a byte, get a byte, get a byte byte byte" to the tune of the finale of Rossini's William Tell Overture.
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 Digital), he 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.
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.
In May 2013, Microsoft announced the Xbox One console, and Cutler was mentioned as having worked in the development of host OS portion of the system running inside the new gaming device. Apparently his work was focused in creating an optimized version of Microsoft's Hyper-V Host OS specifically designed for Xbox One.