[TUHS] Public access multics

Dan Cross crossd at gmail.com
Sun Sep 2 10:57:17 AEST 2018

On Sat, Sep 1, 2018 at 6:15 PM jcs <lists at irreal.org> wrote:

> Will Senn <will.senn at gmail.com> writes:
> > So, it looks like someone has gone and started running a multics
> > instance:
> >
> > http://lists.nycbug.org/pipermail/semibug/2018-August/000288.html
> >
> > That’s interesting, and y’all may even have been aware of it.

Yup. A few Multics sites are publicly accessible; the one at the Living
Computer Museum has a guest account, a few others one can get an account if
one asks the site administrator nicely. Some amount of Multics maintenance
has been restarted.

> But, I was thinking that Multics was a failed predecessor of
> > unix and it’s craziness an inspiration for how unix isn’t
> > multics... straighten me out :)

Multics was the immediate predecessor of Unix, and one can certainly see
some of the influence, though of course many of the details are different.

Failed only in the sense that the Labs withdrew from the project.
> Honeywell, which bought out GE's computer division, sold Multics
> systems, although I don't remember them being very successful.

The multicians.org site has a lot of good information on Multics and what
ultimately become of it. (jcs probably knows this already; I'm writing this
more for general information of those who may not have been following these
developments.) The TL;DR was that a smallish number of sites eventually
installed Multics and it was a moderate success for Honeywell, but for the
reasons that have been mentioned (failure to market, lack of management
understanding, tied to a decomposing architecture well past its prime) it
never carved out more than a niche.

The real mystery is what it's running on. Multics originally ran
> on the GE/H 600(0) systems. I doubt any are still around. It's
> probably a simulator but I've never heard of one for the H6000.

The last working hardware installation was shut down in, I think, 2000. An
DPS8/M emulator has been built on top of the SIMH framework, and is what
folks are running Multics on. Some more details are here:

        - Dan C.
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