True geek fest

In the 1960s-1970s, Ken Thompson co-invented the UNIX operating system along with Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs. I have their first book and have worked with UNIX since the early 80’s. Here he’s interviewed by Brian Kernighan, geeks will know him too. I’ve met him at an event in conjunction with NSA.

The GF runs on UNIX.


@eflyguy Thank you for sharing! Great talk by a great man. A bunch of us are indebted to those pioneers at Bell Labs that gave us Unix and C. :sunglasses:


I have been coding in C and UNIX Shell since the 80’s. That’s a huge reason I have Mac, although I’ve had compilers and emulators on Windoze machine in the past, and still have several very heavy duty UNIX servers but there’s no point dimming my lights to run them these days… :rofl: I have an upstairs bedroom dedicated to servers that haven’t been powered up in close to a decade now…


Cool. My uncle worked for Bell Labs. When I was a kid in the 70s we would go to his house and he had this machine, essentially a typewriter with a phone coupler, and a dot matrix printer. We would dial into the Bell Labs server(?) I guess, not sure, and play games. We played Hunt the Wumpus! It was really cool. Hunt the Wumpus was awesome! It also generated huge mazes. I won’t ever forget that and the sound of the printer. Amazing. As a kid, it felt really cutting edge. He also once showed me a touch screen monitor. Really something. As I said, I won’t forget. I miss that and my uncle!!


I started on coding sheets and punched cards. We’d get the output the following week, insert correction sheets, and wait another week for the results. It was all mainframe code. “High level” assembly, then Fortran and Cobol came later.

My parents tossed all that stuff when we moved back to the UK. I would kill for those old punched cards now…

I also had every edition of 2000AD (comic) from the very beginning, that they tossed along with everything else. Just the very first one was worth a fortune back in the 80’s… :roll_eyes:


Today’s geeks will never understand the heart-stopping feeling of accidentally dropping your program and watching the wind toss lines of code in every direction.


That’s when you learned to carry a marking pen with you to make patterns to help put the deck back together!

I’ve got the K&R book on my bookshelf!


When I started at my first tech job at an insurance company we were still using cards (I was hired to help move to green screen IBM terminals and CMS). The wait for results irritated me no end. But I found that if I coded my stuff to run in the production queues I’d get the results within minutes or hours at worst. I could get dozens of test runs in the same timeframe my compatriots got one cycle. As long as I was careful not to do something bad, the jobs ran so fast no one noticed that I was accessing test resources from production queues. Only got caught once in three years and by then my productivity precluded any real consequences :stuck_out_tongue:


Brian and I used to sit at the same breakfast table.


Glad to see I’m not alone in respecting the contributions of these folk. Most of the general public don’t even know they exist let alone understand their contribution to our modern world.


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