Unix's big Four-Zero


January 20, 2010

How bored are we today here at IV-SCOX-Q-dot-PK? Is there room for an off-topic helpdesk thread?

In a moment of weakness I volunteered to do a LUG talk next week marking forty years of Unix.

I can't pretend to be an expert, but the guys down the LUG don't know that So, with the Board's indulgence, if you have suggestions and corrections, I'd be most grateful. Or you could just tell me to stop clogging the Board; that's good too...

Here's the initial outline. I've done detailed notes for the first two and last two sections (which I will share, if you like) but the middle part would definitely benefit from peer review. Please!

CHAPTER ZERO -- The Proper Purpose of History

(done) * Lulz, and standing on the shoulders of giants

CHAPTER ONE -- A Brief History of time_t

(done) * The Unix system clock: how it got that way

CHAPTER TWO -- Multics and the (ex-)Multicians

* The primitive world of mid sixties tech
* Aims; cathedral design
* Technical structure and innovations
* Familiar apps (qedx, emacs, runoff) and commands
* Organisations and People
* Bell Labs withdrawal and the first Unix

CHAPTER THREE -- What's an Operating System? Unix's Definitive Answer

* Early Unix - technical structure
* What came first and what came later - innovations
* Bazaar culture and People

CHAPTER FOUR -- Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?

* The interplay of Hardware and Software
* VAX - where it came from, its influence, its demise
* C - where it came from, its influence, its non-demise
* Workstation tech - GUI - its uneasy relationship with Unix

CHAPTER FIVE -- Big Business

* Portability, licensing => everybody wants a Unix


* Culture - AT&T, its licensees
* Counterculture - Universities, BSD, Usenix, GNU
* BSD litigation
* Startups, Alliances and Breakups
* Standardisation, POSIX
* Publication and teaching as enabler of Minix => Linux

CHAPTER SEVEN -- Commoditisation

* Goodbye VAX, hello and goodbye RISC
* Hello i386 (Multics again)
* Cheap hardware enables cheap software => Linux

CHAPTER EIGHT -- Pinguageddon

(mostly done) * How Linux conquered Unix

CHAPTER NINE -- The End of History

(done) * Will Linux conquer the world? Will it ever die off?


Thoughts? Corrections? Offers of help? Do you know anywhere I can plagiarise stuff from? Ideas for sexing it up? All gratefully received -- thanks in advance!

12:19:18 PM

Re: Unix's big Four-Zero


January 27, 2010

Well, the gig's tonight.
Thanks everyone for your help kick-starting this.

In the highly unlikely event anyone here is in the vicinity of Bradford in West Yorkshire, I'll be presenting this at the BRADLUG meeting tonight at 7-15pm in the CVS building on Sunbridge Road.

You can see the slides and the notes at

although, all things considered, it's a bit late for corrections and feedback :-/
In retrospect I would have liked to do more about the origins of the utilities (vi, awk etc) and their huge influence...
and I really should have added a graphic of the Levenez chart. Was going to. Forgot :O

8:50:11 AM

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