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Chapter One:
Building Ray's Stage


Ray Noorda didn’t start Novell, Inc., from scratch in 1983. He bought a company: Novell Data Systems, Inc. (NDSI).

Novell Data Systems was the hopes and dreams of other people. It had been founded in 1980 and grew to 120 people in 1981, but by the end of 1982 had collapsed to 15 people. Things were so bad in late 1982 that NDSI’s products were being returned faster than they were being sold.

But those 15 people left at the company had a dream … a dream for a revolutionary product that would save the company. And Ray found that dream so exciting and real that he was willing to invest his time and money in this otherwise losing proposition to make it happen.

The dream was a local area network product that would become NetWare. The founders of the Novell we know today included Harry Armstrong, Craig Burton, Judith Clarke, and the SuperSet group of programmers.

These people made Novell and NetWare. To understand them you need to understand the Novell that they watched grow and collapse. They learned a lot watching that happen. And between what they learned and the experience Ray brought, they developed a winning product and a company that made an industry. To understand Novell, Inc., you need to understand the stage that it was built upon, NDSI.

The Novell Data Systems story is also important as a contrast: The goals of the companies were almost identical, but the results of the implementations were dramatically different.

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