[TUHS] A New History of Modern Computing - my thoughts

Rob Pike robpike at gmail.com
Mon Nov 29 08:17:24 AEST 2021

It's a just-so story. We have nostalgia for Unix, C, and the PDP-11
and its instruction set, and we combine them all into the story about
why it all succeeded. But nostalgia can mislead.

I loved the PDP-11 and its instruction set, I loved C, and I loved
Unix. Memory has put causation in there that is not altogether true.

The PDP-11 as an affordable commercial computer, now _that_ was important.


On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 8:50 AM Jon Steinhart <jon at fourwinds.com> wrote:
> Ken Thompson writes:
> >
> > The PDP-11 had very little the syntax of B expressions.
> > All of that was in place in B long before the PDP-11.
> > To be honest, the byte addressing of the 11 was a
> > significant hindrance. It was the genius of Dennis
> > that was able to conquer the 11 as he installed types
> > into the language.
> >
> > So, my opinion, the PDP-11 had no design on the
> > type system of C and moreover it was not even helpful.
> OK then.  You *would* be the expert.

More information about the TUHS mailing list