[TUHS] UNIX or unix

Steve Johnson scj at yaccman.com
Sun Nov 10 10:07:05 AEST 2019

I remember a story I heard second hand.   The Bell System had so
many acronyms that they published  yearly a small book with all the
acronyms in the Bell System.   Somebody (Ken?, Doug?) got a call one
year that they wanted to include UNIX in the book, so would we please
tell them what UNIX stood for.   The reply was that UNIX was not an
acronym.  So the caller said: "OK.  We won't put it in the book..."


----- Original Message -----
From: "Clem Cole" <clemc at ccc.com>
To:"Mary Ann Horton" <mah at mhorton.net>
Cc:<tuhs at minnie.tuhs.org>
Sent:Sat, 9 Nov 2019 16:23:04 -0500
Subject:Re: [TUHS] UNIX or unix

In fact ATT legal had a document they sent to all commercial licensees
around 1980 on proper use of the name.  I wonder if I still have/can
find a copy.  But the lawyers were pretty clear. It was UNIX with ™
and later the R with a circle around beside the all caps letters after
they registered it.  

It was that letter that started all the names like Xenix, Ultrix,
HP-UX, SunOS, RTU etc.   

On Sat, Nov 9, 2019 at 4:06 PM Mary Ann Horton <mah at mhorton.net [1]>
I just finished Brian Kernighan's book (excellent!) and he addresses 
 this in section 7.6. (Yes, he wrote the book in troff.)

 He prefers "Unix" and wrote it that way except for this section. He
 "Bell Labs' legal guardians decided that the name Unix was a valuable

 trademark that had to be protected..." Legal mostly required it to be

 used as an adjective "The UNIX TM operating system", and how the ms 
 macros produced a small caps "UNIX" (and a footnote on the first 
 reference). He's clear that the 1127 folks hated the requirements

 It is true that the file which contains the kernel was /unix, or
 for Berkeley Unix, but that's the name of the file, not the proper
 of the operating system for English prose.  By convention, virtually
 Unix files were in lower case.

      Mary Ann

 On 11/9/19 12:36 PM, Derrik Walker v2.0 wrote:
 > On 11/9/19 12:20 PM, Nemo Nusquam wrote:
 >> I was reading the comments on Hackaday on UNIX at 50 
 >> As expected, a lot of manure but some interesting comments from 
 >> seemingly knowledgeable people.
 >> One comment 
 >> from a DDS, stated that (s)he worked at The Bell and they wrote it

 >> "unix" (lower-case) to distinguish it from MULTICS.  Anyone care
 >> comment on this?
 >> N.
 > It was always my understanding, based totally on hearsay from 
 > engineers from both Sun and SGI back in my early days with it, UNIX
 > the OS, while unix, or vmunix is the kernel. Unix was deprecated by

 > the time it became a real commercial product.
 > So, right or wrong, I've always used UNIX for the OS, and unix, or 
 > vmunix as appropriate, to refer to the kernel.
 > - Derrik
Sent from a handheld expect more typos than usual 

[1] mailto:mah at mhorton.net

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