[TUHS] Early Unix and Keyboard Skills

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Wed Nov 2 12:36:34 AEST 2022

I’m re-reading Brian Kernighan’s book on Early Unix (‘Unix: A History & Memoir’) 
and he mentions the (on disk) documentation that came with Unix - something that made it stand out, even for some decades.

Doug McIlroy has commented on v2-v3 (1972-73?) being an extremely productive year for Ken & Dennis.
But as well, they wrote papers and man pages, probably more.

I’ve never heard anyone mention keyboard skills with the people of the CSRC - doesn’t anyone know?

There’s at least one Internet meme that highly productive coders necessarily have good keyboard skills,
which leads to also producing documentation or, at least, not avoiding it entirely, as often happens commercially.

Underlying this is something I once caught as a random comment:

	The commonality of skills between Writing & Coding.

Does anyone has any good refs for this crossover?
Is it a real effect or a biased view.

That great programmers are also “good writers”:

	 takes time & focus, clarity of vision, deliberate intent and many revisions, chopping away the cruft that’s isn’t “the thing” and “polishing”, not rushing it out the door.

Ken is famous for his brevity and succinct statements.
Not sure if that’s a personal preference, a mastered skill or “economy in everything”.

steve j


A Research UNIX Reader: Annotated Excerpts from the Programmer's Manual, 1971-1986
M.D. McIlroy

pg 10

3.4. Languages

CC (v2 page 52)

V2 saw a burst of languages:
    a new TMG, 
    a B that worked in both core-resident and software-paged versions,
    the completion of Fortran IV (Thompson and Ritchie), and
    Ritchie's first C, conceived as B with data types.

In that furiously productive year Thompson and Ritchie together
    wrote and debugged about
    100,000 lines of production code.


Programming's Dirtiest Little Secret
	Wednesday, September 10, 2008

	It's just simple arithmetic. If you spend more time hammering out code, then in order to keep up, you need to spend less time doing something else.

	But when it comes to programming, there are only so many things you can sacrifice! 
	You can cut down on your documentation. 
	You can cut down on commenting your code. 
	You can cut down on email conversations and 
		participation in online discussions, preferring group discussions and hallway conversations.

	And... well, that's about it.

	So guess what non-touch-typists sacrifice? 
	All of it, man. 
	They sacrifice all of it.

	Touch typists can spot an illtyperate programmer from a mile away. 
	They don't even have to be in the same room.

	For starters, non-typists are almost invisible. 
	They don't leave a footprint in our online community.


Steve Jenkin, IT Systems and Design 
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 38, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

mailto:sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

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