[TUHS] pre-more pager?

Steve Johnson scj at yaccman.com
Thu Nov 9 12:01:53 AEST 2017

"Well, in the beginning, there was paper. You didn't need to "page"
 because you had actual pages you could hold in your hand (if not the
 manual typeset as an actual book, then the printed output from the

Paper indeed...    I had a model 37 teletype at home, and would
bring home boxes of paper and carefully arrange the box so that the
blank paper feeding the terminal did not get tangled up with the
"used" paper spewing out of the teletype.  A second box for the used
paper was handy.

In the early Unix days, the file system had two kinds of tiles --
small files and "large" files.   As a file grew, there was a moment
when the inodes were rewritten to go from small to large.  And if the
system crashed during this process, a lot of stuff could get messed up
or deleted.  It usually took a few minutes for the system to get back
online, so I kept a highlighter by the terminal, and when the system
crashed I would reel back the used paper and highlight those lines
that I needed to reenter.  When the system came back, I copied the
lines that had been lost and pressed on.

One day, I had spent a couple of hours in an intense debugging session
when my wife called me to lunch.  I didn't save my stuff, and was
very unhappy to return an hour later and discover the system had
crashed.   I was even more unhappy to discover that, while I was at
lunch, our cat had found the box of used paper and used it as a litter
box.  After the shock wore off, I picked up my highlighter anyway and
marked the soggy lines I needed to retype...

It was never more true that debugging was a smelly job...


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