[TUHS] Algol68 vs. C at Bell Labs

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Fri Jul 1 01:49:26 AEST 2016

On Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 11:32:08AM -0400, Dan Cross wrote:
> MC68000 vs Intel 8088 seems like a no-brainer: the 68k is the superior
> chip. From a business perspective, I guess it was a very different matter,
> but that's not my area and the ship has long sailed over the horizon.
> Still, it's fun to speculate and I can't help but think that a 68k-based
> IBM PC would have been a nicer machine.


> Something I never understood about the IBM PC: even the 8088 machine was
> fairly beefy compared to e.g. a PDP-11/20. The 6th Edition Unix kernel was
> objectively pretty small and understandable; mini-Unix showed that that
> sort of software could be used on a machine without an MMU. I've never
> understood why IBM didn't just write a real OS in a high-level language
> instead of saddling the world with MS-DOS. Perhaps it's naive of me, but
> even if they didn't use Unix directly, it was an existence proof that such
> a thing was possible. I suppose, again, it was less a technical issue and
> more a business issue, or perhaps I'm underestimating the amount of work or
> missing some of the technical complexities.

I wonder if they just didn't know.  Unix was Bell Labs and Universities for
the most part.  Was the timing such that they may not have been aware of 
Unix?  Or maybe they knew about Unix but thought it was for the vax?

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