On May 31, 2014 6:25 PM, "Doug McIlroy" <doug@cs.dartmouth.edu> wrote:
> > Ken and Dennis and the other guys behind
> > the earliest UNIX code were smart guys and good programmers,
> > but they were far from perfect; and back in those days we
> > were all a lot sloppier.
> The observation that exploits may be able to parlay
> mundane bugs into security holes was not a commonplace
> back then--even in the Unix room. So input buffers were
> often made "bigger than ever will be needed" and left
> that way on the understanding that crashes are tolerable
> on outlandish data. In an idle moment one day, Dennis fed
> a huge line of input to most everything in /bin. To the
> surprise of nobody, including Dennis, lots of programs
> crashed. We WERE surprised a few years later, when a journal
> published this fact as a research result. Does anybody
> remember who published that deep new insight and/or where?
> Doug

yeah, that's not really sporting. I've always wondered about something else, though: Were the original Unix authors annoyed when they learned that some irascible young upstart named Richard Stallman was determined to make a free Unix clone? Was he a gadfly, or just some kook you decided to ignore? The fathers of Unix have been strangely silent on this topic for many years. Maybe nobody's ever asked?