[TUHS] Unix stories, Stephen Bourne and IF-FI in C code

Brantley Coile brantleycoile at me.com
Wed Jan 11 16:00:36 AEST 2017

I asked Ken and Steve about this yesterday. 

Ken remembers the request to rename od(1) but not who asked. Steve remembers vaguely asking but suspects he just used do - od and found out the hard way he needed to change it to done. Neither remembers the episode very well so it must not have been a big deal to them at the time. 


> On Jan 8, 2017, at 10:31 PM, Steve Johnson <scj at yaccman.com> wrote:
> I wasn't directly involved in this, but I do remember Dennis telling me essentially the same story.  I don't recall him mentioning Ken's name, just that "we couldn't use od because that was already taken".
> Steve B and I had adjacent offices, so I overheard a lot of the discussions about the Bourne shell.  The quoting mechanisms, in particular, got a lot of attention, I think to good end.  There was a lot more thought there than is evident from the surface...
> Steve (not Bourne)
> ----- Original Message -----
> From:
> "Norman Wilson" <norman at oclsc.org>
> To:
> <tuhs at tuhs.org>
> Cc:
> Sent:
> Sun, 08 Jan 2017 21:30:03 -0500
> Subject:
> Re: [TUHS] Unix stories, Stephen Bourne and IF-FI in C code
> Doug McIlroy:
> There was some pushback which resulted in the strange compromise
> of if-fi, case-esac, do-done. Alas, the details have slipped from
> memory. Help, scj?
> ====
> do-od would have required renaming the long-tenured od(1).
> I remember a tale--possibly chat in the UNIX Room at one point in
> the latter 1980s--that Steve tried and tried and tried to convince
> Ken to rename od, in the name of symmetry and elegance. Ken simply
> said no, as many times as it took. I don't remember who I heard this
> from; anyone still in touch with Ken who can ask him?
> Norman Wilson
> Toronto ON
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