[TUHS] 197[78] usenix conf. at columbia, magtapes "found in the street"?

ron minnich rminnich at gmail.com
Sun Nov 19 08:05:01 AEST 2017

Random memories, possibly wrong.

In 1977/78 I was at udel and had done a fair amount of work on unix but as
a lowly undergrad did not get to go to the Columbia Usenix meeting. Ed
Szurkowski of udel went. Ed was the grad student who did hardware design
for 11s for Autotote (another story) but also stood up a lot of the early
unix 11s at udel starting in 1976, starting with an 11/70. Mike Muus used
to come up and visit us at udel and Mike and Ed would try to ask questions
the other could not answer. Mike always had a funny story or two.

Ed later went to Bell Labs and I lost track of him.

The directions for the MTA were fairly clear: it listed a stop that you
under no circumstances should get off at, and if you did get off at, you
should not go up to the street, lest you never return. This was no joke.
Some places in NY were pretty hazardous in those days.

I *think* this was the meeting where Ken showed up with a bunch of
magtapes, and Ed claimed that, in Ken's word, they were "... found in the

This part I remember well: Ed returning with two magtapes and our desire to
upgrade. We at udel, like many places, had done lots of our own mods to the
kernel, which we wanted to keep. So we ran a diff between trees, and I
wrote a merge with TECO and ed which got it all put together. I later
realized this was a very early form of 'patch', as it used patterns, not
line numbers, to figure out how to paste things back together. I really got
to love regex in those years.

Except for one file: the tools just would not merge them. Ed later realized
there was one key difference that we had not noticed, a missing comment,
namely, the Western Electric copyright notice ...

I'm kinda sorry that our "udel Unix" is lost to the great /dev/null, it
would be interesting to see it now.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20171118/ec067c9a/attachment.html>

More information about the TUHS mailing list