[TUHS] Dennis Ritchie's Dissertation

Norman Wilson norman at oclsc.org
Sun Aug 2 07:24:46 AEST 2020

John Gilmore:

  Yes -- but [Bell Labs'] administration was anything but egalitarian or
  meritocratic.  I know someone who had immense trouble getting inside the
  door at the Labs because "all" he had was a bachelor's degree.  Let
  their character be judged by how they treated a stranger.

  Sign me proud to have succeeded in life with no degrees at all,


That was where local management came in.

I have no degrees at all.  I haven't been nearly as
successful in many ways as John, but I was recruited
and hired by 1127.  That I had no degree meant I was
initially hired as a `special technical assistant'
rather than a `member of technical staff,' but my
department head and director and executive director
(the last was the legendary Vic Vyssotsky) worked
tirelessly on my behalf, without my pushing them at
all, to get me upgraded, and succeeded after I'd been
there about a year.  It was only later that I realized
just how much work they'd done on my behalf.

The upgrade gave me a big raise in pay, but I was
young enough and nerdy enough not to notice.

Within the 1127 culture there was no perceptible
difference; it was very much an egalitarian culture.
I felt respected as an equal from the start (really
from the day and a half I spent interviewing there).

Not every part of the Labs, let alone AT&T, was like
that, especially outside of the Research area.  I
didn't realize it initially but that was one of the
ways I benefited from the success of UNIX (that 1127's
and 112's management could push past such bureaucratic

After all, Ken never had more than an MS.

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON

More information about the TUHS mailing list