[TUHS] Re: Can someone advise me regarding a gui for UNIX

Dennis Ritchie dmr at plan9.bell-labs.com
Sat Oct 12 17:20:41 AEST 2002

Norman Wilson's account of the Jerq/Blit etc. is quite
complete and correct, though there was some recycling
of names.  'Jerq' actually was used quite early, when
Pike got interested in bitmap graphics.  The name
was a takeoff on the Three Rivers Perq, which he (and I)
saw at Lucasfilm Ltd. while attending an early Usenix.
Blit was the slightly more PC version (suggested either
as part of BitBlt or "Bell Labs Interactive Terminal).
The originals used the Motorola 68000, and part of
the development messup was AT&T Computer systems'
decision to switch to the WE32000 processor with
consequent delay for porting and reworking.

The earliest versions were not quite as wonderful
in practice as Norman suggests for the later ones.
They were built by the Teletype corp. model shop
(in quantity of a few hundred) and downloading
the OS took several minutes at 1200bps--necessary
at startup, since they didn't have a ROM for the whole
thing, just enough for doing a download.  They
were also static electricity antennas!  Many
is the time that I would shift in my chair, then
touch the keyboard, only to have the terminal
reset itself.  I developed the habit of putting my
hand on the heavy steel case before moving around.

On the other hand, the basic idea was architecturally
right (and the later commercial versions were not so
subject to static, and had ROM for the OS).  They
were even nicer at 9600bps.

It's good to know that Norman is still using his.


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