[its-hackers] 1967 ITS mentioned
lbickley at bickleywest.com
Wed Aug 18 19:00:18 CEST 2021
Nice archaeology, Lars!
On Wed, 18 Aug 2021 13:40:08 +0000
Lars Brinkhoff <lars at nocrew.org> wrote:
> I found this in a 1986 (2nd ed 1988) book called "The Tomorrow Makers",
> by Grant Fjermedal. I have send an email to Sussman's MIT address
> asking about the Dead Sea Scroll...printout.
> ~ ~ ~
> [Sussman] pulled out a printout that he handled as if it were an
> original Gutenberg bible. It was the original code for the ITS
> operating system - the Incompatible Timesharing system. It even
> seemed awesome to me. Today we just accept the fact that a mainframe
> computer can be in the basement of a building and desktop terminals
> can be spread throughout a building, or throughout the world,
> providing anyone with a terminal, access to the computer. It is hard
> to realize that as late as the 1960s this wasn't the case. If you
> wanted computer time, you wrote your program, took it to the computer
> room, and had it run oftentimes by someone else, even if you wanted to
> do it yourself.
> It is a tribute to the modesty and especially to the irreverence of
> the early hackers that when they created the world's first timesharing
> system at MIT, they provided it with a name that was completely
> opposite from what it really was: the Incompatible Timesharing System.
> There was Gerry Sussman holding that half-inch printout, a blessed
> relic from 1967. The machine has a Moby memory, and as if reciting
> from the opening words of the Great American novel, Sussman held the
> printout in his hands and said, "The first line of it is, Moby is
> One." It was written as Moby = 1, but the way Sussman read it, there
> was the sound of poetry and philosophy, as existential a piece of
> haiku as I have ever heard: Moby is One. "These days such an
> operating system would have maybe one hundred times as much code. But
> this is what it was like then, filled with some very beautiful code -
> and some very ugly code. Some of it is humorous, and some of it is
> sad. Some of it had ideas in it that have been lost. Some historian
> could go through it someday and read it the way people read the Dead
> Sea Scrolls and say, 'Aha, The guys who wrote this were real smart
> guys. And some of the things they knew, we don't even know now.'"
Bickley Consulting West
"Black holes are where God is dividing by zero"
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