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My favorite inspirational computing videos

Posted: 19 Apr 2019, 22:08
by nanZor
When I lack inspiration, I sometimes return to my most favorite video when we progressed beyond batch computing into time sharing when CTSS at MIT was born. I'll keep it short on what *inspires me*, rather than rewrite whole histories done better by real writers. Maybe you can use the portability of Porteus to do the same with someone else...


How quaint right? Aside from the historical perspective, what lives on and what you may *feel* after all these years is something that can't be transmitted by video.

It's a connection not to just the software and hardware, but the fact that there are real HUMAN BEINGS behind it all - some of them still with us. That might help reduce the current "culture of contempt".

Quirky sidenote is that this system, CTSS is what Ken Thompson had the insight to put regular expressions inside an editor, QED, and not just have it be something external in programming.

And oh yes, the introduction of passwords.

DTSS at Dartmouth.

Right, we all know this is where BASIC came from. But wait - everyone forgets that time-sharing was developed *simultaneously* by undergrads, not the professors working on basic.

Right, so like everyone else at the time researching time-sharing, everything was written in assembly specific to the hardware you had. No high-level system languages here.

Even so, with still photographs, the inspiration and drive to continue comes through. Timeless.

BSD right? What about before that? Oh that's right, Ken Thompson was well familiar with the BTS system before joining Bell Labs to work on Multics, which as we know led to Unix later and all that history.

Berkeley Timesharing System
Project Genie

I'll stop here since it could go on forever.
I mean it doesn't matter what you use, but we tend to forget what inspired the pioneers, and what can still inspire us if you "tune in" to the material. :)

My favorite inspirational computing videos

Posted: 20 Apr 2019, 08:51
by nanZor
Gosh, I have to include just a *tiny* bit more to be complete and the importance of the SDS940 computer and how those that worked with it can be inspirational for you ...

The 940 was the computer used at SRI for the infamous "Mother of all demos". And later when it was totally obsolete, was used for the Community Memory project. (1973 era "BBS"). Yup, BTS was a modified version of the 930 to accomodate timesharing. You can look all this up but beware that sometimes Wikipedia can be a source of revisionist-history ...

And this time I'll finish with the inspirational story of Ann Hardy, who when delivered a 940 to be used for the commercial Tymshare system, had to rewrite the Berkeley Timesharing System that came with it - not that they didn't do a good job, but Ann was forced to improve it due to differences in peripheral hardware.

Her whole story is fascinating, but 17 minutes into part2 is where she talks about the 940.

Ok, I'm done. Time to write a shell script. :)

My favorite inspirational computing videos

Posted: 20 Apr 2019, 13:51
by francois
Thanks for the valuable information. :)

My favorite inspirational computing videos

Posted: 22 Apr 2019, 19:16
by nanZor
Thanks - what fascinates me as much as merely driving hardware are some of the concepts that we still use today.

For instance, history tends to overlook Louis Pouzin, where the concept of rc or "run commands" came from, and from there the shell. Running commands that took all night to perform, especially when your multimilllion dollar machine cost you whether it was doing something useful, or just looping in noops sleeping, was brilliant.

Timesharing initially did not mean sharing of user resources, data, programs etc. Every man was an island, and sharing meant sneakernet, email, or post if you wanted to incorporate somebody elses code into yours.

I wasn't until Multics, with the HFS filesystem where the concept of sharing (or not) by directly being able to browse other user's filesystems came into play. Yep, passwords of course, along with filesystem security management from root or user. Which of course was later adopted into Unix.

Of course, the hackers at MIT wanted none of that, so no passwords or filesystem security with their ITS operating system, which we know blew up to RMS' dismay.

I consider Louis Pouzin one of my heroes. He really helped tie it all together with the "glue" we take for granted. Sometimes I'll look at my display of Porteus and just gaze in amazement at what it took to get here.

My favorite inspirational computing videos

Posted: 09 May 2019, 09:14
by nanZor
Brian Kernighan interviews Ken Thompson !

Don't miss this from VCF East 2019:

Two of the *original* crew of PDP hackers that brought us where we are today - too bad Doug Mcilroy and some of the others who have left us couldn't be there. Maybe in spirit - I can still *feel* a tinge of that original excitement and wonder.

Might also fascinate some of you chess players too. :)

My favorite inspirational computing videos

Posted: 22 May 2019, 08:46
by nanZor
18 year old buys a mainframe - classic:

So he's a bit younger than Ken Thompson. But the spirit is there. I think there's some of that in all of us, especially running something unique like Porteus where you kind of get some hands-on to make the most of it.

For some of us THIS is what we're doing this for...

My favorite inspirational computing videos

Posted: 24 May 2019, 14:54
by n0ctilucient

My favorite inspirational computing videos

Posted: 19 Jun 2019, 09:33
by nanZor
How could I forget the Unix reference in Wayne's World?

What Porteus has turned me into. :)