[TUHS] Happy birthday, Dennis Ritchie! [ really sun vs dec/apollo ]

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Tue Sep 12 09:09:10 AEST 2017


On Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 09:49:16AM -0700, Jon Steinhart wrote:
> Paul Winalski writes:
> > SUN captured the workstation market from Apollo and DEC because they
> > managed to sell workstations cheaper than their competitors.  I don't
> > think that the OS being UNIX had very much to do with it.  But using
> > UNIX probably lowered SUN's software development costs, and no doubt
> > that contributed to their lower workstation cost.
> 
> While the choice of UNIX may have played a small part, Sun really nailed
> it with the SparcStation I.  Sure, they sold it for less than whatever
> the DEC equivalent was at the time, but that's because their manufacturing
> cost was way less.  The SparcStation I pioneered a lot of new manufacturing
> technology; it was the first snap-together system.  I remember looking at
> a tear-down of the DEC and Sun offerings, and the Sun had less than 10% of
> the parts of the equivalent DEC system.  Methinks that better engineering
> won the day.

And don't underestimate the draw of a BSD that was "fixed", had mmap that
worked, unified page cache, VFS layer that was pleasant.  I worked for
Lachman before I worked for Sun, saw the guts of quite a few Unix OS's.
SunOS was by *far* the most pleasant and well thought out.  It was an
OS where you could predict what it would do based on the architecture
and sure enough, that's what it did.

I miss that source base.


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