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Palm picks new OS leader

The first chief of Palm's operating system subsidiary will be the same man who helped the company make the split between its hardware and software businesses.

The first chief of Palm's operating system subsidiary will be the same man who helped the company make the split between its hardware and software businesses.

On Monday, Palm chose David Nagel, AT&T's chief technology officer, AT&T Labs' president, and the Palm board member who had been overseeing the creation of Palm's new OS unit. Palm announced last month that it plans to create a separate subsidiary for the part of the company that develops and licenses the Palm OS.

In choosing Nagel as president and CEO of the OS subsidiary, Palm has once again boosted the number of former Apple Computer employees in key positions. Before joining AT&T, Nagel was a senior vice president at Apple and led its worldwide research and development group. Nagel is perhaps best known in the Mac community for spearheading the ill-fated Copland operating system, one of Apple's first attempts at a next-generation OS before it released Mac OS X earlier this year.

Soon, Nagel will have another ex-Apple developer reporting to him. Palm recently tapped former Newton boss Steve Sakoman to become the chief technology officer of the OS subsidiary once Palm's asset purchase of OS maker Be is completed. Sakoman is Be's chief operating officer.

Nagel and Sakoman will join a number of other ex-Apple workers. Doug Solomon, Palm's chief strategy officer, and Satjiv Chahil, Palm's marketing chief, also hail from Apple.

The announcement of Nagel follows the resignation earlier this month of Alan Kessler, the former 3Com executive who had been heading Palm's OS business. Kessler said he was leaving because he felt someone else was needed to run the OS group as a separate business unit.

Nagel will join Palm on Sept. 17 and will report to the Palm board of directors until the new software subsidiary is formed later this year. At that point, he will report to a separate board of the independent OS subsidiary, Palm said.

Nagel will remain on Palm's board of directors.

AT&T will replace Nagel--the first head of AT&T Labs--with Hossein Eslambolchi, a senior vice president of AT&T's packet and optical networking business. Eslambolchi joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1985 and has 87 patents to his credit.