[TUHS] TUHS Digest, Vol 112, Issue 1

Win Treese treese at acm.org
Mon May 5 07:06:23 AEST 2014

On May 3, 2014, at 11:20 PM, Doug McIlroy <doug at cs.dartmouth.edu> wrote:

>> V6 ...  on a number of machines at the Laboratory for Computer
>> Science at MIT in the late 70s - early 80s
> Interesting. I didn't realize that MIT had PDP-11 Unixes. When
> university CS departments were snapping up licenses right and
> left, MIT demurred because AT&T licensed it as a trade secret
> and MIT's lawyers (probably rightly) feared there was no way
> they could keep Unix knowledge from contaminating research
> projects. Other places didn't worry about it, with John Lyons'
> V6 book being the biggest leak. AT&T lawyers did clamp down
> on general distribution of the book, but Bell Labs eagerly
> hired Lyons for a sabbatical visit.
> Did MIT's lawyers relent by V6 time, or did LCS somehow
> circumvent them?

As I understood it, MIT’s main objection was that they didn’t
want to get entangled in anything that would require students
to sign non-disclosure agreements. At some point, MIT did have
a license with Western Electric that did not have such a requirement.
I’m pretty sure it was at least V7, and possibly 32V; not sure about V6.

The first UNIX system I used was on a PDP-11/44 running V7m from
DEC. It was at the MIT Center for Cognitive Science.

 - Win

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