Ray Noorda, the Novell founder who battled Microsoft in the early years of network computers, died Monday of complications from Alzheimer's...

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SALT LAKE CITY — Ray Noorda, the Novell founder who battled Microsoft in the early years of network computers, died Monday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 82.

Mr. Noorda, the so-called Father of Network Computing, had suffered from Alzheimer’s for years and died at his home in Orem, 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, according to a statement from family members.

Mr. Noorda became chief executive of Novell in 1983 and made it a software powerhouse, dominating the market for products that manage corporate networks and let individual computers share files and printers. But Microsoft caught up by the mid-1990s.

Mr. Noorda, whom Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates once called the “grumpy grandfather” of technology, was bitter over Novell’s failure to check Microsoft’s power.

He tried branching out in the early 1990s by investing in the Unix operating system, the WordPerfect word processor and other products to compete with dominant Microsoft products.

But those efforts failed, and Novell went into a decline from which it has yet to fully recover. Mr. Noorda retired from Novell in 1995 to open The Canopy Group, a capital venture firm.

“Ray was one of the innovators of the Utah Miracle,” Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said. “He launched what would become Utah’s technology sector. He has left behind a monumental legacy and we are all in his debt.”

Dell Chairman Michael Dell and Chief Executive Kevin Rollins issued a joint statement praising Mr. Noorda as a pioneer of the computer age.

“He helped drive the extension of the PC by building a successful file-sharing system … that is now the de facto standard in local area networks,” the statement said.

“He was known for letting anyone make a mistake once, as long as they got it right the next time,” Dell and Rollins said.

Mr. Noorda was born June 19, 1924, in Ogden, Utah, the third son of Dutch immigrants. He attended Weber State College, but left to join the Navy as a radar technician during World War II.

He earned an engineering degree from the University of Utah in 1949, and later received honorary degrees from both Utah schools.

Mr. Noorda worked for General Electric Co. for 21 years, where he had a reputation for innovation. He subsequently worked for a succession of electronics companies in California before returning to Utah, where he turned a bankrupt company called Novell Data Systems into Novell Inc.

Family members said Mr. Noorda was motivated by the Depression to create as many jobs as he could support. Novell eventually grew to 12,000 employees from 17 when Mr. Noorda arrived.

More recently, Novell has turned to developing software for the open-source Linux operating system, trimmed jobs and moved headquarters to Waltham, Mass., although it still keeps some operations in Provo, Utah.

Mr. Noorda is survived by his wife of 56 years, Tye, four children and 13 grandchildren.