[its-hackers] "ITS" pronunciation

Eric Swenson eric at swenson.org
Tue Sep 14 22:42:46 CEST 2021

When I said earlier that "we" pronounced it eye-tee-ess, what I should have clarified was to whom I was referring with the ambiguous "we".  I was a member of LCS.  We in that group, during the time that I was there (1976-1980), pronounced it that way. LCS was "right next to" the AI group, and I'm very sure that "they" pronounced it like "we" did.  Now, it is quite possible that the DM folks (several floors below LCS and AI groups) pronounced it "its", or maybe only back when Jack was there.  We could find out if it was a universal thing by asking folks like TAA, MARC, Barbara Liskov, and other DM folks who were there at the same time that I was at LCS.  But I never, in my four years being around the ITS systems, hear anyone refer to it as "its"!  -- Eric

On 9/14/21, 11:15 AM, "its-hackers on behalf of Lars Brinkhoff" <its-hackers-bounces at its.victor.se on behalf of lars at nocrew.org> wrote:

    Jack Haverty wrote:
    > I don't remember any pronunciation other than "its" being used at
    > all.   Never "eye-tee-ess".

    Thanks, I think that's really interesting!  ITS (forced pun intended)
    the operating system that keeps delivering juicy tidbits.

    > I recall asking what "its" meant and hearing the plausible story that
    > it represented a play on words as a competitor to the "official" MIT
    > timesharing utility - CTSS, the Compatible Time Sharing System.  ITS
    > was created as the "Incompatible Time Sharing system".

    I think it's fairly well established that Tom Knight invented this name.
    In AI memos from early 1967, it's referred to as the generic "time-
    sharing system", or just TS.  The first mention by name I have found is
    in AI memo 146 from October that year: "PICPAC is a PDP-6 program to be
    used for manipulating picures of real-world scenes. It operates under
    ITS (Incompatible Time-Sharing System)".

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