[TUHS] PWB - what is the history?

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Wed May 16 01:38:06 AEST 2018

On Tue, May 15, 2018 at 10:59 AM, Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:

> So what's the back story with PWB?  It seems like sort of a back water
> but as I recall, they had some interesting stuff.

​Actually PWB (1.0) gave on you of your favorite tools -- SCCS ;-)

V6 was semi-widely distributed to the Academics.  Basically the tier-1 CS
schools all had it, but it was probably few than 50-75 licenses.  It was
also were the first commercial use license was written (originally for Rand

Programmer's Workbench - aka PWB was John Mashey and team in Whippany.
 They took a V6 system and make some changes, primarily in how groups
worked and added a bunch of user level tools that made it easier to write
and maintain long term commercial software that was being sent out the Bell
Operating Companies -- IIRC the #5ESS project was a big driver but I'm less
sure of that.

PWB was not officially released to the Universities it was originally only
available inside the Bell System, but because of the commerical use license
AT&T started to rethink.   BTW:  some of the University got it from AT&T
employees that brought it with them.    This was how SCCS made it to UCB
because it was not part of the research editions.   Who brought it, there I
never knew.  Noel may know how it made it to MIT, it came to CMU from Phill
Karn and Ted Kowalski.

PWB 2.0 was released a few years later and was based on the UNIX/TS kernel
and some other changes and it was around this time that the UNIX Support
Group was formed in Summit, where aps, Ted, and Steve Johnson spent time.
  This got even less widely used outside of the Bell System because V7 had
been released which also based on the UNIX/TS kernel.  I believe that this
was released via Summit, but Steve or aps may know more.

With V7 there also came the first commercial binary redistribution license,
and commercial use license was modified for the first time.

​Judge Green broke the Bell System up....​

So, AT&T started to negotiate with 10 commercial firms that had
redistribution licenses and we also customers of Prof Allison at Stanford
who brokered the meetings [I was the technical rep from Tektronix, along
with a lawyer].   I'm not sure I can remember everyone in the room at
Ricki's Hyatt.   But Gates was there from Microsoft (only time I ever met
him), Bill Munson from DEC, I've forgotten the HP and IBM reps, 3Com was
Metcalfe, was SCO and few others.  I can see a picture of the faces in my
mind, I just can not remember the names].  What I remember was Gates saying
'You guys don't get it.  The only thing that matters for SW is Volume' --
they wanted to pay $25 a copy max and DEC/IBM/HP thought $1500-2000 was
just fine, since their average systems cost  was $150K.

So ...  PWB 3.0 came about 2-3 years later and Research was supposed to be
out of the distribution business and the new commercial license was created
from that negotiation.     AT&T is allowed to be in the computer business
and renamed it System III.   But if you look at the printed manual, it had
already been created and calls it PWB 3.0.


PS learn, style and diction were part of 7th edition BTW...

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