[TUHS] Re.: Princeton's "Unix: An Oral History": who was in the team in "The Attic"?

Paul Ruizendaal via TUHS tuhs at tuhs.org
Tue Oct 11 21:15:38 AEST 2022

> Has anyone roughly calculated “man years” spent developing Unix to 1973 or 1974?
> Under 25 "man-years”? (person years now)

I cannot find the message at the moment (TUHS mail archive search is not working anymore?), but I recall that Doug McIlroy mentioned on this list that 1973 was a miracle year, where Ken & Dennis wrote and debugged over 100,000 lines of code between them. In software, “man year” is an elastic yardstick...

There is also this anecdote by Andy Herzfeld:

Quickdraw, the amazing graphics package written entirely by Bill Atkinson, was at the heart of both Lisa and Macintosh. "How many man-years did it take to write QuickDraw?", the Byte magazine reporter asked Steve [Jobs].

Steve turned to look at Bill. "Bill, how long did you spend writing Quickdraw?"

"Well, I worked on it on and off for four years", Bill replied.

Steve paused for a beat and then turned back to the Byte reporter. "Twenty-four man-years. We invested twenty-four man-years in QuickDraw."

Obviously, Steve figured that one Atkinson year equaled six man years, which may have been a modest estimate.

There is also another anecdote involving Atkinson. At some point all Apple programmers had to file a weekly report with how many lines of code they wrote that week. After a productive week of refactoring and optimising, he filed a report saying “minus 2,000 lines”.

More information about the TUHS mailing list