[TUHS] Claim your early Unix contributions on GitHub

Norman Wilson norman at oclsc.org
Thu Mar 31 04:28:35 AEST 2016

Marc Rochkind:

  BSD is the new kind on the block. I don't think it came along until 1977 or
  so. Research UNIX I don't think picked up SCCS ever. SCCS first appeared in
  the PWB releases, if you don't count the earlier version in SNOBOL4 for the
  IBM mainframes.


Correct.  We never needed no stinkin' revision control in Research.

More fairly, early systems like SCCS were so cumbersome that a
community that was fairly small, in which everyone talked to
everyone, and in which there was no glaring need wasn't willing
to adopt them.

I remember trying SCCS for a few small personal projects back in
1979 or so (well before I moved to New Jersey), finding it just
too clunky for the benefits it gave me, and giving up.  Much later,
I found RCS just as messy.  One thing that really bugged me was
those systems' inherent belief that you rarely want to keep a
checked-out copy of something except while you're working on it.
Another, harder to work around, is that in any nontrivial project
there are often stages when I want to make changes of scope broader
than a single file: factor common stuff out into a new file, merge
things into a single file, rename files, etc.

CVS was a big step forward, but not enough.  Subversion was the
first revision-control that didn't feel like a huge burden to me.

None of which is to say that SCCS and RCS were useless; they were
important pioneers, and for the big projects that originally
spawned them I'm sure they were indispensible.  But I can't imagine
Ken or Dennis putting up with them for very long, and I'm glad I
never had to.

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON

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