We found the author of Notepad, sorry you didn’t go to the award ceremony


I've received independent confirmations as to the authorship of Notepad, so I'm inclined to believe it. Sorry you didn't get to go to the award ceremony.

The original author of Notepad also served as the development manager for Windows 95. His job was to herd the cats that made up the programmers who worked on Windows 95, a job which you can imagine falls into the "not easy" category.

After Windows 95, he retired from the software industry and became a high school science teacher. At a social event some years later, I met him again and asked about the transition from software development manager to high school science teacher.

His response: "You'd be surprised how many of the skills transfer."

Comments (34)
  1. nathan_works says:

    "retired" or called in rich ?

    As in, I know more than a few CS types who made their millions/called-in-rich/got the "FU" money. They’d bum around doing whatever for a few years, then started teaching HS science or math as "something to do" that also provides nice benefits (since they didn’t need the money)

  2. Pierre B. says:

    I’m sure Raymond would also be a terrific science teacher. After all, experiments need to stay backward compatible with old stuff, like gravitation and magnetism.

  3. JenK says:

    I worked in a day care center during college.  It’s amazing the training that provided for being a manager in the software industry.

  4. Skip says:

    Herding cats is easy.  All you need is string.

  5. mvadu says:

    Quote from linked post

    “The mail went out to the team. “Hey, does anybody remember who wrote Notepad?””

    If you knew the original author why din’t you respond to that email..

    [I only learned who the original author was last week. My time machine is in for repairs. -Raymond]
  6. porter says:

    > "retired" or called in rich ?

    I thought the saying was that you never got rich working for somebody else.

  7. porter says:

    > His response: "You’d be surprised how many of the skills transfer."

    As a teacher he is still using "RegisterClass()" :).

  8. DWalker says:

    That’s the saying, but it’s not always true.

  9. Mike says:

    So I take it he prefers to not have his name associated with Notepad?

    [I didn’t ask. It’s not like I have his phone number. -Raymond]
  10. Dean Harding says:

    I think the author of the multi-line edit control was the correct recipient anyway, rather than the guy who just slapped a File, Edit, View, Help menu on it…

  11. Frank says:

    For which version of Windows did he write Notepad? I’m guessing that the version that came with Windows 95 wasn’t written from scratch, but just ported to the Windows 95 API. Is this right? If so, does the current Notepad in modern Windows share it source code heritage all the way back to Windows 1.0?

  12. Jolyon Smith says:

    @Dean:

    Slapping a "File, Edit, View, Help" menu doesn’t automagically deliver the functionality of the items on those menus.

    Nor does it implement the wonderfully specific but kooky ".LOG" functionality that Notepad provides.

    @Frank:

    I don’t think the person in question wrote the Windows 95 version of Notepad.  He wrote Notepad then WENT ON to herd the Windows 95 cats.  At least, that’s how I read it.

  13. Isaac says:

    Hello Raymond.  You mentioned the Dev manager for Win 95 in multiple occasions (http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2005/08/24/455557.aspx, and http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2008.06.windowsconfidential.aspx) but you never mentioned his name? So who IS he?

    [Actually, the stories are about two different people. And you know my rule about names. -Raymond]
  14. porter says:

    > I think the author of the multi-line edit control was the correct recipient anyway

    I thought the MLE was part of OS/2. Original Windows has a single text edit control and used ES_MULTILINE to make it allow multiple lines.

  15. Miral says:

    Skip: "Herding cats is easy.  All you need is string."

    That only works some of the time, and even then, only until they get bored.

  16. I went from being a software developer (not manager) into teaching for a while. Lots of transference of skills that I can see. A good software manager will often made a good teacher. A poor manager will make a very poor teacher though (generally). Teaching is a lot about people management.

  17. Gazzzal says:

    So who is the mystery guy?

  18. I would always refer to my favorite HTML authoring tool as "Visual Notepad 200x Professional Edition for Architects" :-)

    When I returned to MS fulltime, I was doing a index search of all the places where SetWinEventHook() was called.  I was curious how the Active Accessibility technology I worked on in the 90’s was being used by Windows itself.

    Sure enough, Notepad was using it to get column and line number information.  A very simple implimentation, but it showed yet a another way MSAA could provide benefits.

  19. Neil says:

    Once they’ve repaired your time machine they’ll be able to deliver it last week…

  20. Eric Lippert says:

    Heck, I used to capture escaped monkeys (true!) for a living and now I design programming languages; you’d be surprised at how many of the skills transfer.

    A word of advice: if you’re ever in a meeting with someone who gets hostile, just pin their arms behind their back with one hand and hold their teeth away from anything you don’t want bitten while you open the cage with the other hand. Then toss them towards the cage in one smooth motion; they’ll totally go for hiding in the cage, at which point, you’ve got ’em.

  21. Anynomous Coward says:

    Unpreempted snarky remark:

    Well that was kind of pointless. You have an article to reveal the person who wrote notepad, but “Oh! No names, sorry.”

    And now I would like to reveal who killed Jimmy Hoffa: He is a guy who is now selling real estate in Chicago… Sorry you know my rule about names.

    Also I know where Osama Bin Laden is… But you know my rule about places.

    [The name isn’t important to the story. Suppose I said the guy’s name is “Bob Smith.” Does that change your enjoyment of the story in any meaningful way? -Raymond]
  22. J says:

    What’s this obsession with people needing to know meaningless names of random people they’ve never heard of?

    When Deep Throat was announced as being W. Mark Felt, you could hear the collective "Who???" from the US.  The more important part is knowing what his relationship was to the Nixon administration.

    When the masked magician finally revealed himself on TV, we found out he was Val Valentino!  … Umm, who?

    So yeah let me break it to you you about the Windows 95 development manager:  You’ve never heard of him!  Luckily Raymond actually knows how to tell a story, despite many people in the audience not knowing how to enjoy a story…

    (And no, I’m not going to respond to any anal-retentive replies about how we care about many historical names blah blah.  Completely missing the point, so don’t bother.)

  23. MZ says:

    ?

    I could have never imagined that… Bob Smith!!!???

    WTF!? This world is crazy…

    So… he’s teaching now…?

    Well… I think Microsoft made the right decisioin by firing him.

  24. Brian Tkatch says:

    >What’s this obsession with people needing to know meaningless names of random people they’ve never heard of?

    1) It makes the story more factual.

    2) It allows links between stories about the same people.

    3) It allows people to exclude people they thought it might be. (IOW, they thought wrong but found that out by realizing the right meaningless name was not him.)

    4) It allows people to believe they might see that the person one day and thank/berate him.

    5) It allows people who do know him to know another detail.

    Moral of the story: One person’s meaningless is another person’s treasure.

    [6) It violates the person’s privacy by revealing personally-identifiable information without permission. -Raymond]
  25. Yeah, I was kind of wondering if I know the guy, since I know people who fit your description otherwise.

    I mean, odds are it’s not one of the people I’m thinking of, but now I can’t help but be curious!

    [Was he development manager for Windows 95? If not, then it’s not the same person. -Raymond]
  26. Brian Tkatch says:

    >[6) It violates the person’s privacy by revealing personally-identifiable information without permission. -Raymond]

    That’s not 6, that’s exactly why you didn’t say it (1) of the other list). Though i really wish you would ask permission. It’d be cool. You can say “I know the guy who wrote notepad!”. He can say, “I was mentioned on Raymond Chen’s blog!” YMMV.

    I only know one guy from the 95 team, and he wasn’t a manager. He wrote file manager though, does that count? :)

    I asked him why his name didn’t appear in the folder triple-rename easter egg, he gave some excuse. He said there was also a pictorial version (which i never found) to which he said he had his dog appear instead of himself. Claims like that make me wonder what is actually real.

    [I often do ask people how they wish to be identified (if at all), but in this case, it’s somebody I haven’t seen in years. -Raymond]
  27. Brian Tkatch says:

    >[I often do ask people how they wish to be identified (if at all), but in this case, it’s somebody I haven’t seen in years. -Raymond]

    Thanx for the explanations Raymond. I love your blog.

    [I thought it was evident that this is not a person I keep in touch with, since I mentioned in the story that I the first time I saw him after Windows 95 was after years had elapsed. -Raymond]
  28. Brian Tkatch says:

    >[I thought it was evident that this is not a person I keep in touch with, since I mentioned in the story that I the first time I saw him after Windows 95 was after years had elapsed. -Raymond]

    That was evident. I just thought you could ask him anyway. In a similar situation, i might have. But you explained since you haven’t spoken to him in a while, you didn’t feel comfortable asking that. That makes sense.

    Regardless, i’m thanking you for giving explanations. In general, you really do explain things when people ask. You may be terse, but you do explain. I appreciate that.

    [I couldn’t have asked him if I wanted to. I don’t have his phone number. It’s not like we were ever friends. (And if you think the story refers to someone you know, then ask that person, “Hey, is this story about you?” Then they have the option of confirming or denying (possibly lying). I’m not going to do your legwork for you because I am not allowed to reveal people’s names without permission, and I’m not going to expend a lot of effort to obtain it when it doesn’t serve the story. -Raymond]
  29. Dean Harding says:

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009 8:23 AM by Anynomous Coward

    >

    Unpreempted snarky remark:

    >

    Well that was kind of pointless. You have an article to reveal the

    person who wrote notepad, but "Oh! No names, sorry."

    Am I the only one who noticed the irony of "Anynomous[sic] Coward" asking for the names of the people in this story?

  30. mikeb says:

    OK it’s time for the big reveal: the name of the person who wrote notepad is….

    — Raymond Luxury-Yacht —

    But take care if you happen to meet him in QFC or something:

    His name is pronounced "Throat-Warbler Mangrove"

  31. Random832 says:

    What we have here is a failure to communicate.

    The proper order of events is that you met him later and he mentioned how the skills transfer to being a high school teacher, and then much later (i.e. when this article was written) you found out he was the writer of notepad. Correct?

    The faulty narrative people are reading here is that you had a conversation with him after finding out that he wrote notepad and deciding to write this blog article, wherein you asked him what the transition was like and he said what you quoted about skills transferring.

    [Right, the order of events is 1995: Development manager. 2000ish: Had a brief conversation with him and learned he was a teacher. November 2 2009: Posted article about not knowing who the author of Notepad was. November 4 2009: Learned who the author of Notepad was. November 17: Used this as an excuse to tell the story from 2000. (I should have opened with “Since posting the story, I’ve received independent confirmations as to the authorship of Notepad.” to make the timeline more clear, but to be honest, I thought the use of the present participle indicated that it was a recent development.)-Raymond]
  32. Brian Tkatch says:

    Raymond, "Random832" is right. I seem to have missed the order of events. Sorry about that chief.

    I also don’t think the guy i mentioned wrote it, because he wasn’t a manager, though reportedly he taught a computer class for a short bit in the Seattle area before coming to my city. I can’t ask him because he left town. Even if i could ask him, i suspect his stories.

    I am curious though, if the authors of 95 did indeed have their pictures in there. And, if there’s anything like the triple-rename easter egg in other versions of Windows. But, i don’t expect you to answer this point because it is off-topic. And considering i’m just rambling now, i’ll just stop here. :)

  33. MZ says:

    Was it P. H.?

  34. wx says:

    or maybe yz?

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content