Artifact Details


Cutler, David (Dave) oral history

Catalog Number





Dave Cutler (Microsoft Senior Technical Fellow) reviews his youth and never having touched a computer even through college. He then joined Dupont as a technical writer and became interested in developing a GPSS application for a Dupont customer. That led to his volunteering to fix bugs in EXEC-II operating system on the Univac 1108 at Dupont Research Station and his first exposure to computer operating systems. Knowing that computer operating systems were what he wanted to do, he then joined Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and developed several versions of the PDP-11 RSX-11 operating system and a PL-1 compiler. He was a key member of the VAX architecture development group and led the development of VMS including doing much of the coding himself.
Frustrations with DEC management indecision about the future of processor architectures and operating systems led to his establishment of the DECwest Research Center in Seattle with support from Gordon Bell. Dave assembled a large team to develop a VAX successor to RISC machine and VMS successor operating system (Mica and Prism).
Subsequent to DEC cancelling those projects and some efforts with his colleges towards starting his own company, Dave joined Microsoft at the urging of Steve Ballmer. There he developed the NT operating system, navigating multiple user interface additions, porting to several processor platforms and producing several releases. NT is currently the kernal of all Microsoft O/S.
Following NT Dave changed his focus and made significant contributions to the Azure cloud computing environment. Dave discusses his management style and philosophy of software development and some analogies to his career of racing high performance cars. He reflects on the state of processor development and the future of major operating systems.
Currently, he is contributing to the X-Box after developing the hypervisor for that product line. Dave is a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, a Fellow of the Computer History Museum and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Many consider Dave Cutler one of the computer industry’s most preeminent and prolific engineers.




Cutler, David, interviewee
Dennis, Eric, videographer
Saviers, Grant, interviewer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Medina, WA, USA


40 p.






Windows NT; RSX-11; DECwest; VAX; VMS; X-Box; software quality; RISC vs CISC

Collection Title

CHM oral history collection


Computer History Museum

Lot Number


Related Records

102717162 Cutler, David (Dave) oral history