4.2BSD steering committee members

Paul Ruizendaal pnr at planet.nl
Sun Oct 15 18:44:26 AEST 2017

Many thanks for on and off list replies to my query.

I happened to stumble across a paper by Krik McKusick (right here in the THUS archives) that has some more background:
and in particular on page 38 of the magazine (page 6 of the PDF).

It says (with some reformatting for clarity):

"The contract called for major work to be done on the system so the
DARPA research community could better do its work. Based on the needs
of the DARPA community, goals were set and work began to define the
modifications to the system.

In particular, the new system:
- was expected to include a faster file system that would raise
  throughput to the speed of available disk technology,
- would support processes with multi-gigabyte address space requirements,
- would provide flexible interprocess communication facilities that
  would allow researchers to do work in distributed systems,
- would integrate networking support so that machines running the new
  system could easily participate in the ARPAnet.”

So, IPC facilities to support distributed systems were apparently an explicit goal, and that helps explain the composition of the committee.

It continues:

"To assist in defining the new system, Duane Adams, Berkeley's contract
monitor at DARPA, formed a group known as the "steering committee” to
help guide the design work and ensure that the research community's needs
were addressed.

This committee met twice a year between April, 1981 and June, 1983, and
included [name list as before]. Beginning in 1984, these meetings were
supplanted by workshops that were expanded to include many more people.”

This shift in membership after 4.2BSD shipped had already been noted. The committee seems to have had a productive start:

"An initial document proposing facilities to be included in the new system
was circulated to the steering committee and other people outside Berkeley
in July, 1981, sparking many lengthy debates.”

I would assume that those initial discussions included debates on what would become the socket API. I’ve asked Kirk McKusick if he still remembered that initial discussion document. The reply was:

"The document to which you refer became known as the "BSD System
Manual". The earliest version that I could find was the one
distributed with 4.2BSD in July 1983 which I have attached.”

If anyone knows of earlier versions of that document (prior to 1982), I’d be highly interested.

The paper also notes:

"During the summer, Joy concentrated on implementing a prototype version
of the interprocess communication facilities.”

I’ll scan the early (partial) SCCS logs for remnants of that (a long shot, but worth a try).


More information about the TUHS mailing list