[TUHS] stories

Kevin Bowling kevin.bowling at kev009.com
Thu Nov 29 17:20:11 AEST 2018

Amateur historian perspective on what supported this, not sure how
recruiting and day to day worked hopefully first parties can teach us.

* Military Industrial Complex promoted projects of grandeur in large
industrials like Bell that are probably beyond comprehension of most
recent generations (Dew line
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSSrPCE0smo, SAC-NORAD, SAGE, AUTOVON,
Telstar, etc)
* Subscriber base of general public telecom had immense scale and
reliability requirements that supported both rapid R&D and
engineering/operations progress
* Power of monopoly (see Peter Thiel's Zero to One book)

I think in light of scale and difficulty of all the work going on in
physics, electronics manufacturing/scaling, optics, RF etc the
computing work was relatively small in scope to administrators.  Why
would you not create an OS or microprocessor in such an environment?

I have some good books on this to recommend:
* The Idea Factory - most recent and popular
* A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System - 6 volumes
on different topics that show a pretty insane progression over 100
years, not sure any other company had endured that much change

There are some organizations that are vaguely like that today like IBM
Research, SRI, Riken.  There used to be more like Xerox PARC.

I do wonder if things like twitter and facebook have in effect dumbed
down the population through increased distraction and reduced
attention span.  I believe there are some studies on the later.  As
far as market forces, lots of smart people are working at stupid
companies like Facebook and Google these days.  So people are less
effectively organized and working on less interesting things with less
attention span.

On Wed, Nov 28, 2018 at 10:17 AM Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
> Ken's story got me thinking about stuff I would still like to learn
> and his comment about "when I got to Bell Labs"... made me wonder
> how did Ken, Dennis, Brian, Joe and the rest of the crew make their
> way to Bell Labs?
> When I was just starting out, Sun was sort of the Bell Labs of the
> time (not that Sun was the same as Bell Labs but it was sort of
> the center of the Unix universe in my mind).  So I wanted to go
> there and had to work at it a bit but I got there.
> Was Bell Labs in the 60's like that?  If you were a geek was that
> the place to go?  I was born in '62 so I don't have any memory of
> how well known the Labs were back then.
> So how was it that so many smart - and somewhat like minded it seems -
> people end up there?
> --lm

More information about the TUHS mailing list