[TUHS] Strange Birth of Unix

Tim Newsham tim.newsham at gmail.com
Fri Dec 2 12:41:57 AEST 2011

great read!  short enough for the casual reader, very approachable,
compelling narrative.

On Thu, Dec 1, 2011 at 11:41 AM, Warren Toomey <wkt at tuhs.org> wrote:
> All,
>        My IEEE Spectrum article finally got published and you can read it
> on-line here: http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/the-strange-birth-and-long-life-of-unix/0
> I've had a few e-mails about it. This one has a few more snippets about
> early Unix history (from Rey Bonachea):
>  It was with great pleasure and a bit of nostalgia that I read your IEEE
>  article below. Thank you very much for writing it. One aspect that did
>  not get mention, and that perhaps you may or may not be aware of, was
>  the pseudo real time applications of Unix.
>  In 1972 I joined Bell Labs in Holmdel NJ working on a project by the name
>  of Switching Control Center System. At the beginning I was just a brand
>  new member of the technical staff working on circuit design for
>  interfaces to the PDP11/20. This project was meant to centralize the data
>  streams from the maintenance channel of switching machine. Then, in a
>  multi-user environment , would analyze the incoming data streams and raise
>  alarms as appropriate. It also provided a whole suite of analysis tools to
>  allow switch maintenance personnel to trouble shoot the electronic
>  switches.
>  Because the switches could not buffer messages or be slowed by flow
>  control, the Unix system had to catch messages in real time and put it
>  away on disk for later analysis. Due to the near real time requirements, a
>  number of features were added to Unix such as semaphores. The Unix based
>  Switching Control Center System (SCCS) software was trialed in New
>  Brunswick NJ in 1973 and later that year was released as the first
>  commercial application of the Unix OS.
>  I learned to program on that PDP 11/20 computer running Unix and
>  eventually wrote many applications for the SCCS, initially in assembly
>  language and then in C as we were also the first project to use C
>  commercially.
> Cheers,
>        Warren
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Tim Newsham | www.thenewsh.com/~newsham | thenewsh.blogspot.com

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