[TUHS] Windows roots and Unix influence (was Re: Happy birthday, Ken Thompson!)

George Michaelson ggm at algebras.org
Mon Feb 5 08:54:15 AEST 2018


I did some weak-mode due diligence on the infrastructure side of
DirecTV for a potential user/ISP in Australia. This was in the 90s.

The TDM sat control logic, the box which fed the Hughes aerospace low
level protocol to tell the satellite which user got which timeslots,
was OS/2 -I glibly assumed this was initially a typo, and then when I
confirmed it, checked it was under maintenance, and indeed it was. it
continued to be an actively maintained product until 2006 according to
wookiepedia when I read it just now. (it is a little hard to read, but
google translate works) So this idea that all good ideas die, and get
replaced by bad Microsoft ideas even then, wasn't strictly true:
People chose to run systems which worked for them, and if the backend
support contracts works, continued to run then way way after they
"died" in the visible marketplace.

So back then, I shrugged and said "it seems ok. it works, its very
small, very fast, has sensible logic behind it, and its a shitload
better than windows". We weren't going to interact with this OS/2,
somehow they'd sent me the uplink control manual for a consumer
internet service we'd resell at arms length: we'd send emails to
Hughes staff, who would issue the commands, to configure the customers
live (the customer side squareial antenna was designed for anyone,
even army PFCs to configure: you line of sight it to north, then
hunt-and-check until the whistle said it was on-target. It think the
TV could even be a ring-and-dot focus thing checking side-channel SQ
to confirm when it was lined up. Then tighten the wall bolts, and its
done. Oh right. Did I say north? I'm southern hemisphere. you guys
line it south...)

Looking back, I don't know what I expected the OS behind this thing to
be. Probably, some arcane military-industrial (BESM compatible? Never
know when you might sell one to the other side...) protocol designed
to cause ICBM to be launched, with Bruce Willis on it riding bareback
to wrestle the sat dish into place. Or punch cards. Or maybe you phone
Hughes and they type it into a 1960s batch control system on their own
fruitbat powered analog computer.

Or .. OS/2? why not. That works. DECISION!

On Mon, Feb 5, 2018 at 8:43 AM, Dave Horsfall <dave at horsfall.org> wrote:
> On Sun, 4 Feb 2018, Dan Cross wrote:
>
>>       Amusingly, I have a device in my airplane that runs NT4 without
>>       any Windows graphical API on it.   You can see the thing printing
>>       the NT4 startup and build number when you power it on and it will
>>       BSOD.
>>
>> BSOD on an airplane? That sounds kind of scary.
>
>
> Dunno if you're joking or not, but if you're serious then yes, NT starts up
> with a nice bright blue screen and some gibberish, and to log on you have to
> "CTL/ALT/DEL".  Yes, really...  I did not endear myself to my Windoze-loving
> cow-orkers when I commented that a) it comes with its own BSOD, and b) you
> have to reboot it to log on.
>
> --
> Dave Horsfall DTM (VK2KFU)  "Those who don't understand security will
> suffer."


More information about the TUHS mailing list