[TUHS] Windows roots and Unix influence (was Re: Happy birthday, Ken Thompson!)

Robert Brockway robert at timetraveller.org
Mon Feb 5 10:06:58 AEST 2018

On Sat, 3 Feb 2018, Dan Cross wrote:

> Now days, I understand that one can run Linux binaries natively; the
> Linux-compatibility subsystem will even `apt-get install` dependencies for
> you. Satya Nadella's company isn't your father's Microsoft anymore. VSCode
> (their new snazzy editor that apparently all the kids love) is Open Source.

It's interesting that this hasn't taken off more.  A year+ on and I hardly 
see anyone using it.

> The speculation of, "what would have happened?" is interesting, though of
> course unanswerable. I suspect that had it not been for Unix, we'd all be
> running software that was closer to what you'd find on a mainframe or RT-11.

This speaks to the "great man" theory of history.  This posits that 
history would have been different if a great person had died before their 
moment in history.  Eg, Winston Churchill was hit by a car when visiting 
New York City in the 1930s.  He looked the wrong way before trying to 
cross the road.  What if he had died?  Would WW2 have turned out 
substantially differently?

The alternative is to presume that a niche exists in to which a someone 
(or in this case an operating system) will step to become great.  Using 
this alternative view, if Winston Churchill had died in the 1930s (or if 
UNIX had not been developed) an alternative would have filled that niche. 
Maybe we'd all be talking about TOPS20 now :)


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