I was educated at Preston Street School and
George Heriot’s School
in Edinburgh, then at
I emerged with a Ph.D. in 1978.
Since then I’ve worked in industrial research labs:
first for 5 years at Xerox PARC (1978-1984),
then for 17 years at DEC (then Compaq) SRC (1984-2001),
and most recently for 13 years at Microsoft Research in Silicon Valley
My research has been in the general area of operating
systems and distributed systems, with occasional excursions into
security, and one physical gadget (the Personal Jukebox, or “PJB”).
Most recently I've been investigating security or its lack,
as exemplified by TLS and the global X.509 public key infrastructure.
I sometimes build miscellaneous things with user interfaces (like some of this
web site), just for fun.
The work for which I seem to be best known is:
a more complete list of projects]
Projects in Cambridge (1973-1978):
At Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, PARC (1978-1984):
- Grapevine, distributed email,
with the first distributed naming system
- The Cedar programming environment (including its
At DEC (then Compaq) Systems Research Center, SRC (1984-2001):
- The Taos system, a micro-kernel operating system for a
- A Global
- Assisting with the design of the OSF Distributed Computing Environment (DCE)
a high-speed mesh-connected network
- The Echo replicated file system
Objects, a distributed object system,
with a distributed garbage collector
- Virtual Paper, a system for easy online
index-based email “in the cloud” with a web-based
- the Personal
Jukebox, the first multi-gigabyte portable audio player
At Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, MSR-SVC (2001-2014):
just the highlights]
In 1994 I received the ACM Software System Award (jointly with Bruce Nelson)
for our work on RPC.
In 2007 the “Implementing RPC” paper was added to the ACM SIGOPS
Hall of Fame.
In 2008 the Grapevine paper was added to the ACM SIGOPS Hall of Fame.
I’m married, with two daughters, and I live in Los Altos, California.