• Nov 3, 1962
    (b.) -
    Apr 14, 2000
    (d.)

Bio/Description

A computer programmer best-known as the co-creator of the zip file format for data compression, and the author of PKZIP, a program for creating zip files which ran under DOS, he graduated from the Computer Science Engineering program at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1984. He was then hired by Allen-Bradley Co. as a programmer. He wrote code to run programmable logic controllers which operated manufacturing equipment on shop floors worldwide for Allen-Bradley's customers. He left Allen-Bradley in 1986 to work for Graysoft, a Milwaukee-based software company. At the time, he had worked on an alternative to Thom Henderson's ARC, named PKARC. ARC was written in C, with the source code available on System Enhancement Associates' BBS. PKARC, written partially in assembly language, was much faster. He had a special flair for optimizing code. Besides writing critical code in assembly language, he would write C code to perform the same task in several different ways and then examine the compiler output to see which produced the most efficient assembly code. He initially publicly released only PKXARC, an extraction program, as freeware. It’s much greater speed caused it to spread very quickly throughout the BBS community. Strong positive feedback and encouragement from the community prompted him to first add his compression program, PKARC, and eventually to make his software shareware. In 1986 he founded PKWARE, Inc., while the company's operations were done in his home in Glendale, Wisconsin, but hedid not leave Graysoft until 1987. In the late 1980s a dispute arose between SEA, maker of the ARC program, and PKWARE (Phil Katz Software). SEA sued him for trademark and copyright infringement. The most substantial evidence at trial was from an independent software expert appointed by the court to compare the two programs. He stated that PKARC was a derivative work of ARC, pointing out that comments in both programs were often identical, including spelling errors. Although there was a settlement of the lawsuit, the SEA vs. PKWARE dispute quickly expanded into one of the largest controversies the BBS world ever saw and angered many shareware users who perceived that SEA was a "large, faceless corporation" and he was "the little guy" when, in fact, at the time, both SEA and PKWARE were small home-based companies. He received positive publicity by releasing the APPNOTE.TXT specification documenting the ZIP file format, and declaring that the ZIP file format would always be free for competing software to implement. The net result was that the ARC format quickly dropped out of common use as the predominant compression format that PC-BBSs used for their file archives, and after a brief period of competing formats, the ZIP format was adopted as the predominant standard. Although his company PKWARE became a multimillion dollar company, he was more noted for his technical expertise than business prowess. He battled alcoholism for years which led to his death on April 14, 2000, at the age of 37.
  • Date of Birth:

    Nov 3, 1962
  • Date of Death:

    Apr 14, 2000
  • Gender:

    Male
  • Noted For:

    Co-creator of the zip file format for data compression, and the author of PKZIP, a program for creating zip files which ran under DOS
  • Category of Achievement:

  • More Info: