Artifact Details


Davidian, Gary oral history, part 1 of 2

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Moving image


Gary Davidian learned microprogramming in college at the University of Buffalo and, early in his career, became a specialist in microprogramming. After finishing his master’s in 1979, Davidian joined Data General, where he worked on the failed next generation Fountainhead Project. As told in Tracy Kidder’s Soul of the New Machine, the Fountainhead Project was eventually passed over in favor of the Eagle project, which became the 32-bit Eclipse. After Data General, Davidian joined Rational, a company making hardware designed to run the Defense Department’s Ada language, where Davidian got his first experience with the Motorola 68000 architecture. While at Rational, Davidian was approached by intellectual property lawyers to write a clean-room implementation of microcode for the Intel 8086 in a legal case where Intel was suing NEC for allegedly copying Intel’s microcode in their 8086 clone. Davidian left Rational to take the contract job, a lucrative opportunity. The case ultimately vindicated NEC, with Davidian’s clean room microcode proving that NEC’s microcode did not copy Intel’s, though it did set precedent by declaring that microcode could indeed be copyrighted. This incident is retold in Tim Jackson’s book Inside Intel: Andy Grove and the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Chip Company. After finishing the initial contract in 1986, Davidian joined Apple’s System Software group. Davidian worked with hardware engineers to develop low-level software for the Macintosh IIx, IIcx, IIci, SE/30, Portable, and a failed project named “Modern Victorian,” whose technology ultimately ended up in the Mac IIfx. Much of this software was stored in the Macintosh ROM. Davidian wrote the routine for zapping the PRAM, as well as a new Time Manager that ended up being crucial to the development of QuickTime.




Davidian, Gary, Interviewee
Hsu, Hansen, Interviewer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA






Oral history

Collection Title

CHM Oral History Collection


Computer History Museum

Lot Number