[TUHS] crt0 -- what's in that name?

Norman Wilson norman at oclsc.org
Tue Jun 13 11:37:40 AEST 2023

Clem Cole:

> Apologies to TUHS - other than please don't think Fortran did not
> impact UNIX and its peers.

Fortran had an important (if indirect) influence in early Unix.  From
Dennis's memories of the early days of Unix on the PDP-7:

  Soon after TMG became available, Thompson decided that we could not
  pretend to offer a real computing service without Fortran, so he sat
  down to write a Fortran in TMG.  As I recall, the intent to handle
  Fortran lasted about a week.  What he produced instead was a definition
  of and a compiler for the new language B.

(The Evolution of the Unix Time-Sharing System; see the 1984
UNIX System issue of the BLTJ for the whole thing, or just read

Now let's move on to the name `rc'.  Not the shell, but the
usage as part of a file name.  Those two characters appear
at the end of the many annoying, and mostly pointless, configuration
files that litter one's home directory these days, apparently
copied from the old system-startup script /etc/rc as if the
name means `startup commands' (or something beginning with r,
I suppose, instead of startup).  But I recall reading somewhere
that it just stood for `runcom,' a Multics-derived term for what
we now call a shell script.

I can't find a citation to back up that claim, though.  Anyone
else remember where to look?

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON

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