Zip compression software inventor Phillip Katz has died of chronic alcoholism at the age of 37.

Katz invented the popular PKZip file compression program in 1986, which compresses a file into a zipped file. Its companion program, PKUNZip, decompresses the file.

The program made transmitting files over networks easier, as the compressed file requires less storage space and time to transfer.

No replacement Katz was president of PKWare in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, which he founded in 1989. Bob Gorman, director of sales and marketing for PKWare, said Katz was "actively involved" in the day-to-day business of the firm of 20 employees. Gorman added that PKWare has not yet named another president, and that a group of managers would maintain the firm for the time being.

Katz is also credited with pioneering shareware marketing. The company sold its compression tools to developers, but offered downloadable and shareable software to consumers. The software was free on a limited basis, but to continue using the program, users must register and pay for the it.

Drink Steve Burg, president of NeoWorx, worked with Katz at PKWare from 1989 to 1997. Burg described Katz, who he said struggled with alcoholism in the latter years of his life, as a friend and mentor.

"Phil Katz was quite a loner and not very open to very many people. He kept most of his personal thoughts to himself. He was a very quiet, very smart guy who loved to program," Burg said.

"PKWare did well when Phil was actively involved with the company because of his programming talent and abilities, but I don't think he stepped into the building in the last five years," he said. "He ran the company through email, which is not a very efficient way to run a business."