[TUHS] Surprised about Unix System V in the 80's - so sparse!

Jim Capp jcapp at anteil.com
Thu Mar 18 07:08:57 AEST 2021


The appeal was that SCO Xenix would turn a PC into a multi-user machine. For me, that meant shared databases and shared applications. We would run anywhere from 3 to a dozen or more "dumb" terminals. 

Unlike a DOS PC, SCO Xenix included most of the UNIX tools. At one time, it even included PWB. 

Just like a DOS based PC, applications like Word Perfect and Lotus 123 were available (for a price). 

My $.02 


From: "Josh Good" <pepe at naleco.com> 
To: tuhs at tuhs.org 
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2021 4:33:37 PM 
Subject: [TUHS] Surprised about Unix System V in the 80's - so sparse! 

Hello UNIX veterans. 

So I stumbled online upon a copy of the book "SCO Xenix System V Operating 
System User's Guide", from 1988, advertised as having 395 pages, and the 
asked for price was 2.50 EUROs. I bought it, expecting --well, I don't know 
exactly what I was expecting, something quaint and interesting, I suppose. 

I've received the book, and it is not a treasure trobe, to say the least. I 
am in fact surprised at how sparse was UNIX System V of this age, almost 

The chapter titles are: 

1. Introduction 
2. vi: A Text Editor 
3. ed 
4. mail 
5. Communicating with Other Sites 
6. bc: A Calculator 
7. The Shell 
8. The C-Shell 
9. Using the Visual Shell 

And that's it. The communications part only deals the Micnet (a serial-port 
based local networking scheme), and UUCP. No mention at all of the words 
"Internet" or "TCP/IP", no even in the Index. 

Granted, this Xenix version is derived from System V Release 2, and I think 
it was for the Intel 286 (not yet ported to the i386), but hey it's 1988 
already and the Internet is supposed to be thriving on UNIX in the Pacific 
Coast, or so the lore says. I see now that it probably was only in the 
Berkely family that the Internet was going on... 

In truth, I fail to see what was the appeal of such a system, for mere 
users, when in the same PC you could run rich DOS-based applications like 
WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, Ventura Publisher and all the PC software from 
those years. 

I mean, mail without Internet is pretty useless, althouhg I understand it 
could be useful for inter-company communications. And yes, it had vi and the 
Bourne Shell. But still, it feels very very limited, this Xenix version, 
from a user's point of view. 

I'm probably spoiled from Linux having repositories full of packaged free 
software, where the user just has to worry about "which is the best of": 
email program, text editor, browser, image manipulation program, video 
player, etc. I understand this now pretty well, how spoiled are we these 

Josh Good 

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