[lug] Old Unix, was Re: SGI Onyx 2

Jeffrey Haemer jeffrey.haemer at gmail.com
Wed Mar 31 16:50:37 MDT 2010


Happy to loan out my disks.   I haven't looked at them in years, but I'm
sure they're five-and-a-quarter-inch floppies.  PC/IX will drive a color
monitor -- not a trivial statement, since most monitors back then were

> You couldn't do a lot with Unix back then (no X, no 3D, no easy ipv4)
> but you could do things.. right?

Does "make a living" count?   And that was even before everyone switched to
nfs4. :-)

INTERACTIVE Systems Corporation was the first commercial UNIX vendor (1977).
 Our first customer was a law firm that wanted our word-processing
facilities, which included the INed screen editor (a technology invented,
independently, by Edgar T. Irons and Bill Joy), and a formatter (nroff/troff
with Ted Dolotta's -mm macro package).  The two, along with tools like a
spell-checker (spell(1)) were marketed as INtext.   Both Irons and Dolotta
were VPs of ISC.

We also had a block-mode terminal (INterm), designed by Charles Minter, a
student of Carver Mead's, which had a bunch of INed in firmware, which let
our systems support a lot more users doing text-processing than they could
have otherwise.

Another early customer was Wells Fargo Bank, I suspect for the same reason.

Plus, Ken Thompson made it possible to run Spacewar if you got bored, though
I don't think our distro came with a port.

By 1983, when I joined them, someone at IBM had decided to provide Unix on
their exciting, new powerhouse, the PC/XT -- the first mass-market personal
computer with a Winchester (hard) disk.    (I think the XT was as powerful
as a PDP-11/20, FWIW.)

They hired ISC to do the work, since they didn't have anyone who knew
anything about UNIX.  For that matter, neither did anyone else.

As an aside, the same piece of hardware motivated a major change in their
flagship microcomputer operating system, PC-DOS (MS-DOS): subdirectories
(folders).  Ten megabytes was so much storage that it no longer made sense
to try to keep all your files in the same directory.

Jeffrey Haemer <jeffrey.haemer at gmail.com>
720-837-8908 [cell],  @goyishekop [twitter]
http://seejeffrun.blogspot.com [blog],
http://www.youtube.com/user/goyishekop [vlog]
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