Back in the days when Microsoft licensed QDOS from Tim Patterson at Seattle Computer so it could supply an OS for IBM's PC, Novell Data Systems in Utah was hard at work making computers and operating systems. Microsoft succeeded beyond its wildest dreams when the IBM PC took off like a rocket ship. Novell took note of the impressive sales of the IBM PC and went to work on how to network them together. In 1983 Novell Data Systems changed its name to Novell when Ray Noorda arrived at the company to "salvage" what was worth doing. ShareNet became NetWare, the first true file sharing operating system for Intel 808x and Motorola 68000.
Their microprocessors was created by the talented Drew Major and his colleagues at SuperSet who were under contract to Novell. Novell almost single-handedly created the market for local area networks with their NetWare software, which supported almost every PC networking hardware technology that existed. I met Ray Noorda at the first NetWorld trade show and conference held at the Dallas InfoMart in 1986. And for the next 12 years, NetWare ruled the LAN. Those were exciting times to be involved with PC networks. It is impossible to recount the history of Local Area Networks and directory services without mentioning the pioneering work of Novell.
The past 27 years of Novell's history have had their ups and downs to be sure and I hope Novell will continue to be around after the Attachmate acquisition of Novell is completed early next year.
I'm glad I learned just enough Novell and cc:Mail to migrate off them to NT and Exchange back in the day.
I do miss Banyan Vines -- StreetTalk provided a great inspiration to Active Directory.
I just wiki'ed the demise of Banyan -- so sad. But I'm glad I stayed ahead of the curve and switched to NT back in 1996.
I just wanted to say how nice it was to see an article from a Microsoft-centric publication that isn't trashing Novell. As a Veteran Novell reseller (some 14 years), it's a sad day, I had hoped VMWARE would grab them instead, but I hope the future for products like Groupwise is strong and we will see resources badly needed to bring those products into the newer technology band as soon as possible.
Novell was a player in networking for Windows 3.1, and many shops ran Novell networks, which, of course, didn't play well with Windows networks. To be fair, because Novell had a tight set of rules of nodes on their network, they all recognized each other and worked well.
Microsoft networks were spotty, and connecting with coax led to dead zones. So you might be able to see a computer two cubicles down but not the one next to you.
Ah the memories, two reboots a day and daily network outages -- the golden years!
I cut my networking teeth on Novell NetWare 3.x and worked with NetWare up to 6.0. Novell always seemed to have good technical products. There are some features in NetWare and eDirectory that I wish Microsoft would have implemented in Active Directory. The biggest problem with Novell as a company was that they did not know what they wanted to be when they grew up. As you mentioned, it bought and sold parts but didn't really go anywhere with it. Maybe because of this, it didn't know how to market itself. All the technical people loved NetWare, and I will never forget what they did for the industry.