On 7/18/18, Doug McIlroy <doug(a)cs.dartmouth.edu> wrote:
> The famous exception is grep, which became a verb.
I think the similarity to "grab" and "grope" helped.
> "grep for" and "grep out".
"grep for" I'm familiar with. What does it mean to "grep out"?
Arnold was clerly on the Unix Room wavelength. ^All those two-letter
commands were spelled out in conversation, even m-v. The pronunciation
of rmdir was hybrid: r-m-dir. But when one talked about an action--not
a command per se--verbs would be used: move or copy a file, list
a directory. The famous exception is grep, which became a verb. There
was no snappy ready-made verb that covered all the aspects of its use:
search for mentions in one file, find files that mention, look for
patterns, filter data, check for malformed data, ... The verb had
two idiomatic variants, "grep for" and "grep out".
Several decades ago, Jim Joyce of San Francisco was one of the
more colorful chaps in the UNIX scene. Among other ventures he
had "The Independent UNIX Bookstore", and during Usenix conferences
he would rent a nearby hotel suite to sell his books to the
conference attendants. Jim once told me the following story (yes,
the topic is about dmr anecdotes).
One day a young man came to the hotel suite and asked, in a
somewhat exaggerated voice, "the best book to learn C programming".
Jim pointed at a gentleman in a nearby armchair, reading, and said:
"ask that gentleman because he knows everything there is to know
about C". So the young man approached said gentleman, and repeated
his question. The answer he got was: "Sorry, I can't help you,
because I never had to learn C". Which left the young man flabbergasted.
Hendrik-Jan Thomassen <hjt(a)ATComputing.nl>
AT Computing Linux opleiders & consultants
Kerkenbos 1238 Tel +31 24 352 72 82
6546 BE Nijmegen www.atcomputing.nl
'If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.'
We do have ken on the list, so I won't be presumptious to ask for ken-related
anecdotes, but would anybody like to share some dmr anecdotes?
I never met Dennis in person, but he was generous with his time about my
interest in Unix history; and also with sharing the material he still had.
Dennis was very clever, though. He would bring out a new artifact and say:
well, here's what I still have of X. Pity it will never execute again, sigh.
I'm sure he knew that I would take that as a challenge. Mind you, it worked,
which is why we now have the first Unix kernel in C, the 'nsys' kernel, and
the first two C compilers, in executable format.
Any other good anecdotes?
As I continue to push the boundaries of subjective topicism, I'd like
to mention that today was when Sir Maurice Wilkes FRS FReng was born way
back in 1913.
He had a bit to do with EDSAC, microprogramming, and that sort of thing.
And dmmmit, I missed Alan Turing's birthday last Saturday (23rd June, 1912),
and Komrad Zuse's back in 22nd June, 1910, along with the Qwerty keyboard
being patented by one Christopher Sholes back in 1868 (long story).
Kudos to Warren for helping me track down the original USENET postings
that make up a fun DMR story.
In October of 1985, a guy from Teklabs posted a long rant against
both Unix and the people at USENIX conferences. The original
rant is available here (thanks Warren!):
> and in this text file:
Dennis replied - the relevant part of what he was replying to is
in his message available here:
Here is the full text of Dennis's note:
| dmr at dutoit.UUCP dmr at dutoit.UUCP
| Wed Oct 9 15:30:04 AEST 1985
| tekadg!davidl writes, at considerable length and with widespread distribution:
| > ... Socially, Usenix is like a
| > spherical glob, with a handful of original software authors at the center (the
| > ones who wrote the original code, like the developers of Unix, C, etc. - the
| > ones whose names are always being bandied about). Around these, there's a
| > surrounding shell of what has been aptly called "Unix groupies" trying to
| > associate themselves, both logically and physically, with the "illuminati"
| > at the center. Typically, these loathsome little insects are system
| > administrators and hackers who spend their time either on the net or
| > endlessly rewriting UUCP or NROFF or, or, or... And, I'm told, there are
| > even some real, honest-to-goodness groupies (of the rock-star variety) who
| > spend their time trying get near the "inner circle" for - never mind...
| > it's believable, though - it's certainly consistent with the demeanor of
| > the rest of the proceedings.
| Usenix conventions, which are undeniably and appropriately narrow-minded
| and introverted, sport more than a few bores, but are notable for absence
| of loathsome insects. Even the irascible Rob Pike remarked after Portland,
| "Goodness, there were very few loathesome insects there."
| They are also marked by a lack of honest-to-goodness rock-star-variety
| groupies. Believe me on this. The free cocaine was nowhere in evidence,
| I consumed no cigar-sized hash bombers, the insistent, complaisant
| lovelies were elsewhere by the time I got back from dinner. Indeed, the
| plaster of Paris I had obtained in case anyone wanted a cast of my genitals
| went entirely unused.
| Still, I understand the party that AT&T threw in Washington
| was pretty wild. Too bad I missed it.
All this was in October 1985.
At the Atlanta USENIX in the summer of 1986, there was some kind of
contest (I don't remember what) and they announced (undoubtedly as a joke)
that one of the prizes was "a plaster cast of Dennis Ritchie's genitals."
It got a good laugh.
My favorite 3B2ism was that the power switch was soft (uncommon then, not so
much now). I seem to recall that if the logged in user wasn't in a
particular group, pushing the power button was a no-op. You didn't have
sufficient privs to operate the power.
Surely you mean the current user didn't have sufficent power.
Not quite a dmr anecdote, but maybe this list can clear up a statement that dmr reputedly made: “streams means something different when shouted”.
I think the claim goes back to around the turn of the millennium and as far as I know it is not disputed that dmr either said this or could have said this.
Now, from reading this list over the years my understanding of the above statement is that dmr designed streams as a mechanism to clean up the kernel handling of line disciplines in a context of access via a terminal and/or modem, and that STREAMS developed this into a way to integrate network stacks with the kernel — hence streams meant something different when shouted.
The original dmr paper (1984) on streams (http://cm.bell-labs.co/who/dmr/st.html) seemed to support this understanding, focussing on terminal handling in its discussion. Also, near the end it says: "Streams are linear connections; by themselves, they support no notion of multiplexing, fan-in or fan-out. [...] It seems likely that a general multiplexing mechanism could help in both cases, but again, I do not yet know how to design it.” This seemed to exclude usage for networking, which is typically multiplexed.
However, now that the V8 sources are available it is clear that the streams mechanism was used (by dmr?) to implement TCP/IP networking. He explains how that tallies with the above quote on multiplexing in a 1985 usenet post: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topicsearchin/net.unix-wizards/subject$3A…
(if the post by dmr does not immediately appear, click on the 8-10-85 post by 'd...(a)dutoit.xn--uucp-y96a to make it fold out: this is the message I refer to).
The way I read this usenet post, dmr was actually reasonably content with implementing a network stack on top of (lowercase) streams. This then implies that he was alluding to something else when saying “streams means something different when shouted” (or maybe he never said it).
Any opinions on what he might have meant?