For me, Ray Noorda was networking. I only met him once, back in the early days of being a young kid out of college, working for a LAN VAR (back when there wasn't a VAR500, when it was only a VAR25 -- we were #22 on the first list -- and the magazine was owned by Novell). Novell was the only solution to network personal computers, or maybe I should say, Novell was the only solution that worked.
Ray did two things (that revolutionized the industry)
- He created an operating system from the ground up, specifically for shared access (utilizing a UNIX core). With the theory of sharing expensive resources (such as hard drive space, printers, plotters, wide area network connections) across a large group of Personal Computers. Allowing the PCs to do what they do best, individual, stand alone work and and controlling access to the local network. It worked and was very slick.
- He created an indirect channel of speciality VARs, helping them evangelize a new technology. Their channel was second to none, and was the envy of anyone else in the marketplace. Novell created a channel that believed in the product, and rewarded these VARs financially (at least in the beginning). Novell also created a tradeshow, training, magazine, road shows, etc. that helped spread the word. LAN Magazine and NetWorld were industry standards - if you were in the business, you had to get one in the mail and go to the other.
Novell eventually became a shell of it's former self and Noorda was forced to leave the company. But he continued in the industry, making Utah one of the hottest tech beds in the country. He was force to reckoned with.