David N. Cutler is arguably the world's leading operating systems engineer. Cutler joined Digital Equipment Corporation in 1971.
His first operating system project was to build a real-time system called RSX-11M that ran on Digital's PDP-11 16-bit series of minicomputers: a multitasking operating system that would run in 32 KB of memory with a hierarchical file system, application swapping, real-time scheduling, and a set of development utilities. His second project was to lead the development of VMS, the operating system for Digital's 32-bit VAX-11 architecture; VAX/VMS was the mainstay of technical computing nationwide for a decade.
Cutler then moved to Seattle to found DECwest Engineering, where he built the MicroVAX1, Digital's first VLSI computer, and VAX ELN, a real-time factory automation operating system. Subsequently he designed Digital's first RISC processor, PRISM, and its Mica operating system, which were never commercialized. In 1988 Cutler and his team left Digital to join Microsoft, where Cutler led the development of Windows NT, Microsoft's first 32-bit operating system. The goals for Windows NT included portability, security, POSIX compliance, compatibility with three separate 16-bit operating performance (including multiprocessor support), extensibility, and the ease of internalization.
Cutler is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, and is one of the only 22 Microsoft Technical Fellows. In March 2007, Cutler received the inaugural Microsoft Technical Recognition Award for Career Achievement, the company's top individual recognition. He donated the prize to UW CSE. More than a dozen friends and colleagues, led by Gary Kimura and Rob Short, augmented Cutler's gift as a tribute to him, creating the David N. Cutler Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship will be awarded to incoming freshmen or transfer students with demonstrated financial need, as determined by the Office of Student Financial Aid. The award amount varies depending on the individual need of the recipients.
This scholarship is available only to those students currently enrolled as a Computer Science or Computer Engineering major here at the University of Washington.