[TUHS] How Unix made it to the top

Kay Parker kayparker at mailite.com
Sun Dec 18 18:54:17 AEST 2016


thanks a lot Doug!

On Fri, Dec 16, 2016, at 06:09 PM, Doug McIlroy wrote:
> It has often been told how the Bell Labs law department became the
> first non-research department to use Unix, displacing a newly acquired
> stand-alone word-processing system that fell short of the department's
> hopes because it couldn't number the lines on patent applications,
> as USPTO required. When Joe Ossanna heard of this, he told them about
> roff and promised to give it line-numbering capability the next day.
> They tried it and were hooked. Patent secretaries became remote
> members of the fellowship of the Unix lab. In due time the law
> department got its own machine.
> 
> Less well known is how Unix made it into the head office of AT&T. It
> seems that the CEO, Charlie Brown, did not like to be seen wearing
> glasses when he read speeches. Somehow his PR assistant learned of
> the CAT phototypesetter in the Unix lab and asked whether it might be
> possible to use it to produce scripts in large type. Of course it was.
> As connections to the top never hurt, the CEO's office was welcomed
> as another ouside user. The cost--occasionally having to develop film
> for the final copy of a speech--was not onerous.
> 
> Having teethed on speeches, the head office realized that Unix could
> also be useful for things that didn't need phototypesetting. Other
> documents began to accumulate in their directory. By the time we became
> aware of it, the hoard came to include minutes of AT&T board meetings.
> It didn't seem like a very good idea for us to be keeping records from
> the inner sanctum of the corporation on a computer where most everybody
> had super-user privileges. A call to the PR guy convinced him of the
> wisdom of keeping such things on their own premises. And so the CEO's
> office bought a Unix system.
> 
> Just as one hears of cars chosen for their cupholders, so were these
> users converted to Unix for trivial reasons: line numbers and vanity.
> 
> Doug


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  Kay Parker       
  kayparker at mailite.com

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