[TUHS] PDP-11 questions

Noel Chiappa jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Mon Jan 25 11:11:40 AEST 2016

    > From: Norman Wilson

    > I have to disagree in part

You make a number of good points. A few comments:

    > the PDP-11 is a big part of what made UNIX so widespread, especially in
    > university departments

That last part was really a big factor, one not to be understated.  That
penetration led to production of a whole generation of people who i) were
familiar with Unix, and ii) liked it, and were not about to put up with the
OS's being turned out by various vendors.

    > I too suspect that a majority (though I'm not so sure about `vast') of
    > PDP-11s never ran UNIX.

'Embedded systems'. The number of PDP-11's running timesharing was a small
share of the total number, I expect.

    > I don't think those who weren't around in the latter 1970s and early
    > 1980s can appreciate the ways in which UNIX captured many programmers
    > ... as no other competing system could.

Very true. My jaw basically hit the floor when I first saw (ca. '75) what Unix
was like. People who didn't live through that transition can't _really_ grok
it, any more than my kids can really fully grok a world without mobile
phones. It wasn't as powerful as Multics, but I was completely blown away that
anyone could get that much capability into a PDP-11 OS.


More information about the TUHS mailing list