[TUHS] "Open" Stanford University Network System, et al [was RT/PC-centric AIX history]
clemc at ccc.com
Sat Mar 11 00:30:38 AEST 2017
On Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 8:15 AM, Jason Stevens <
jsteve at superglobalmegacorp.com> wrote:
> That almost reminds me to ask about the whole "open" Stanford 68000 board
> that became the Cisco AGS, and SUN 100.. and I think SGi 1000
Jason -- I'm not sure what you are trying to say. It was a different
time, different culture, different rules. Note: Please I'm not accusing
you of this, but I worry you are getting dangerous close to an error that I
see made by a lot of folks that grew in the time of the GPL and the "Open
Source Culture." My apologies in advance if you think I'm going a little
too far, but I want to make something clear that seems to have been lost in
time and culture. I do not want to be see as harassing or "shaming" in
anyway way. I want to make a point for everyone since the words we use do
matter (and I realize I screw them up myself often enough)..
I am fairly certain that the "SUN board" - aka the Stanford University
Network 68000 board, like UNIX itself was licensed IP. You are correct
that the schematics (like the UNIX sources) were well known at the time and
"open" in the sense that all of the licenses had them. It was not hard to
find papers with a much of the design described. In fact Andy had worked
on a similar set of boards when he was a CMU a few years earlier for what
we called the "distributed front-end" project (the earlier version was much
weaker and had started as Intel chip of sometime which I have forgotten and
switched to the 68000 at some point - Phil Karn might remember and even
have a copy, I think my copy has been lost to time).
Anyway, to build and sell a Multibus board based on Andy's design that he
did at Stanford as a grad student, you needed a license from Stanford. You
are correct a lot of firms, particularly Cisco, later VLSI Technology - ney
Sun Micro Systems, Imagen, and host of took out licenses to build that
board. Thus a lot of companies built "JAWS" (just another workstation -
so called "3M systems" with a disk), or sometimes diskless terminals as
Andy had imagined it in his papers, or purpose built boxes such the AGS
router and the Imagen printers.
But I flinch a little when I see people call the "SUN" an "open" design.
It was "well know" but it was not what we might call "Free and Open" today.
I admit you just said "open" in your reply to Charlie and may have
meant something different; but so many people today leave the "free" off
when they say "open." *i.e.* People often incorrect deny that Unix was
open as it actually always was from the beginning -- if you had a license,
it just was not "free" to get same. My point is that I believe a license
for the "SUN" was from Stanford was not "free" either. Same with the the
"MIPS" chip technology of a few years later also from Stanford.
So, I would have been happier if you had said something that had included
the words "licensed from Stanford."
Anyway, Research Universities, such as MIT, Stanford and frankly my own
CMU, have long been known for charging for licenses (not always mind you).
In fact, I laud my other institution, because I have always said the real
father of "free and open source" is my old thesis advisor, the late Don
Pederson. In the late 1960s, he founded the UCB EE "Industrial Liaison
Program" which was the auspicious institution that original "BSD" tape
would be released years later. When he first released the first version of
"Simulation Program for Integrate Circuit Evaluation" - aka SPICE, in
approx 67 time frame "dop" said:
*"I always have given away our work. It means we get to go in the back
door and talk to the engineers. My colleagues at some of the other places
license there work and they have go in the front door like any other
When the CS group was added to EE a few years later, their was history,
mechanism, etc. Berkeley had been release source code for a lots of
different project. The Berkeley Software Distribution for Unix V6 was
just the the drop for UNIX - who knew at the time the life it wold spawn
(although I note SPICE is still being used, so even with UNIX's success,
SPICE still hold the record for the "longest" used" BSD release code).
p" used to love to remind the students of that mantra. And he came up
with it 20-25 years before Eric Raymond ever wrote his book and started
equating "open" with "Stallmanism." ;-)
I hope have a great one, and I hope I did not offend.
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