I’m re-reading Brian Kernighan’s book on Early Unix (‘Unix: A History & Memoir’)
and he mentions the (on disk) documentation that came with Unix - something that made it stand out, even for some decades.
Doug McIlroy has commented on v2-v3 (1972-73?) being an extremely productive year for Ken & Dennis.
But as well, they wrote papers and man pages, probably more.
I’ve never heard anyone mention keyboard skills with the people of the CSRC - doesn’t anyone know?
There’s at least one Internet meme that highly productive coders necessarily have good keyboard skills,
which leads to also producing documentation or, at least, not avoiding it entirely, as often happens commercially.
Underlying this is something I once caught as a random comment:
The commonality of skills between Writing & Coding.
Does anyone has any good refs for this crossover?
Is it a real effect or a biased view.
That great programmers are also “good writers”:
takes time & focus, clarity of vision, deliberate intent and many revisions, chopping away the cruft that’s isn’t “the thing” and “polishing”, not rushing it out the door.
Ken is famous for his brevity and succinct statements.
Not sure if that’s a personal preference, a mastered skill or “economy in everything”.
A Research UNIX Reader: Annotated Excerpts from the Programmer's Manual, 1971-1986
CC (v2 page 52)
V2 saw a burst of languages:
a new TMG,
a B that worked in both core-resident and software-paged versions,
the completion of Fortran IV (Thompson and Ritchie), and
Ritchie's first C, conceived as B with data types.
In that furiously productive year Thompson and Ritchie together
wrote and debugged about
100,000 lines of production code.
Programming's Dirtiest Little Secret
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
It's just simple arithmetic. If you spend more time hammering out code, then in order to keep up, you need to spend less time doing something else.
But when it comes to programming, there are only so many things you can sacrifice!
You can cut down on your documentation.
You can cut down on commenting your code.
You can cut down on email conversations and
participation in online discussions, preferring group discussions and hallway conversations.
And... well, that's about it.
So guess what non-touch-typists sacrifice?
All of it, man.
They sacrifice all of it.
Touch typists can spot an illtyperate programmer from a mile away.
They don't even have to be in the same room.
For starters, non-typists are almost invisible.
They don't leave a footprint in our online community.
Steve Jenkin, IT Systems and Design
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 38, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA
The discussion about the 3B2 triggered another question in my head: what were the earliest multi-processor versions of Unix and how did they relate?
My current understanding is that the earliest one is a dual-CPU VAX system with a modified 4BSD done at Purdue. This would have been late 1981, early 1982. I think one CPU was acting as master and had exclusive kernel access, the other CPU would only run user mode code.
Then I understand that Keith Kelleman spent a lot of effort to make Unix run on the 3B2 in a SMP setup, essentially going through the source and finding all critical sections and surrounding those with spinlocks. This would be around 1983, and became part of SVr3. I suppose that the “spl()” calls only protected critical sections that were shared between the main thread and interrupt sequences, so that a manual review was necessary to consider each kernel data structure for parallel access issues in the case of 2 CPU’s.
Any other notable work in this area prior to 1985?
How was the SMP implementation in SVr3 judged back in its day?
What's the canonical source for patches to 2.9BSD and 2.11BSD?
I see we have 2.11BSD patch 469 dated last month in the archive. Where does
it come from? Has anybody climbed the hill to import all the patches into a
git repo? I've found some mirrors, but moe.2bsd.org has been down for me
for ages... How does Warren keep things up to date?
I also have a (maybe faulty) memory of a similar series of patches to
2.9BSD because it was the last BSD to support non-split I&D space machines.
yet a quick google search turns up nothing other than a set of patches
dated August 1985 (also in our archive) and some changes for variants of
hardware (pro, mscp). Is that it?
Good morning all, currently trying to sort out one matter that still bewilders me with this documentation I'm working on scanning.
So I've got two copies of the "Release 5.0" User's Manual and one copy of the "System V" User's Manual. I haven't identified the exact differences, lots of pages...but they certainly are not identical, there are at least a few commands in one and not the other.
Given this, and past discussion, it's obvious Release 5.0 is the internal UNIX version that became System V, but what I'm curious about is if it was ever released publicly as "Release 5.0" before being branded as System V or if the name was System V from the moment the first commercial license was issued.
The reason I wonder this is some inconsistencies in the documentation I see out there. So both of my Release 5.0 User's Manuals have the Bell logo on the front and no mention of the court order to cease using it. Likewise, all but one of the System V related documents I received recently contain a Bell logo on the cover next to Western Electric save for the Opeartor's Guide which curiously doesn't exhibit the front page divestiture message that other documents missing the Bell logo include. Furthermore, the actual cover sheet says "Operator's Guide UNIX System Release 5.0" so technically not System V. In fact, only the User's Manual, Administrator's Manual, Error Message Manual, Transition Aids, and Release Description specifically say System V, all the rest don't have a version listed but some list Release 5.0 on their title page.
Furthering that discrepancy is this which I just purchased: https://www.ebay.com/itm/314135813726?_trkparms=amclksrc%3DITM%26aid%3D1110…
Link lives as of this sending, but contains a closed auction for an Error Message Manual from the "Release 5.0" documentation line but no Bell logo. Until the Operator's Guide and this auction link, I haven't seen any "Release 5.0" branded stuff without a Bell logo, and before I bought the System V gold set, I hadn't seen System V branded stuff *with* the Bell logo.
This shatters an assumption that I had made that at the same time the documentation branding shifted to System V was the same time the removal of the Bell logo happened, given that divestiture was what allowed them to aggressively market System V, but now this presents four distinct sets of System V gold documentation:
Release 5.0 w/ Bell logo
Release 5.0 w/o Bell logo
System V w/ Bell logo
System V w/o Bell logo
I'm curious if anyone would happen to know what the significance here is. The covers are all printed, I can't see any indication that a bunch of 5.0 manuals were retroactively painted over nor that any System V manuals got stamped with a Bell post-production. What this means is "Release 5.0" documentation was being shipped post-divestiture and "System V" was being shipped pre-divestiture. If Release 5.0 was publicly sold as System V, then what explains the post-divestiture 5.0 manuals floating around in the wild, and vice versa, if USG couldn't effectively market and support UNIX until the divestiture, how is it so many "Release 5.0" documents are floating around in well produced commercial-quality binding, both pre and post-divestiture by the time the name "System V" would've been king. Were they still maintaining an internal 5.x branch past System V that warranted its own distinct documentation set even into the commercial period? This period right around '82-'83 is incredibly fascinating and I feel very under-documented.
- Matt G.
I'm giving a presentation on the AT&T 3B2 at a local makerspace next month, and while I've been preparing the talk I became curious about an aspect that I don't know has been discussed elsewhere.
I'm well aware that the 3B2 was something of a market failure with not much penetration into the wider commercial UNIX space, but I'm very curious to know more about what the reaction was at Bell Labs. When AT&T entered the computer hardware market after the 1984 breakup, I get the impression that there wasn't very much interest in any of it at Bell Labs, is that true?
Can anyone recall what the general mood was regarding the 3B2 (and the 7300 and the 6300, I suppose!)
Around 1985 the computer division of Philips Electronics had a Moterola
68010 based server running MPX (Multi Processor Unix) based on System 5.3
with modification. The 'Multi' part was related to the intelligent LAN and
WAN controllers each with their own 68010 processor and memory. A separate
system image would be downloaded at server boot-time. Truly Multi-Processor
Here an announcement of the latest (probably last) model, from 1988.
The more I learn the better I understand I know nothing.
> Has anyone roughly calculated “man years” spent developing Unix to 1973 or 1974?
> Under 25 "man-years”? (person years now)
I cannot find the message at the moment (TUHS mail archive search is not working anymore?), but I recall that Doug McIlroy mentioned on this list that 1973 was a miracle year, where Ken & Dennis wrote and debugged over 100,000 lines of code between them. In software, “man year” is an elastic yardstick...
There is also this anecdote by Andy Herzfeld:
Quickdraw, the amazing graphics package written entirely by Bill Atkinson, was at the heart of both Lisa and Macintosh. "How many man-years did it take to write QuickDraw?", the Byte magazine reporter asked Steve [Jobs].
Steve turned to look at Bill. "Bill, how long did you spend writing Quickdraw?"
"Well, I worked on it on and off for four years", Bill replied.
Steve paused for a beat and then turned back to the Byte reporter. "Twenty-four man-years. We invested twenty-four man-years in QuickDraw."
Obviously, Steve figured that one Atkinson year equaled six man years, which may have been a modest estimate.
There is also another anecdote involving Atkinson. At some point all Apple programmers had to file a weekly report with how many lines of code they wrote that week. After a productive week of refactoring and optimising, he filed a report saying “minus 2,000 lines”.