[TUHS] What was your "Aha, Unix!" moment?

Michael Parson mparson at bl.org
Fri Oct 11 07:13:03 AEST 2019

On 2019-10-10 15:55, Warren Toomey wrote:
> All, we had another dozen TUHS suscribers to the list overnight. 
> Welcome.
> A reminder that we're here to discuss Unix Heritage, so I'll nudge you
> if the conversation goes a bit off-topic.
> So I'll kick off another thread. What was your "ahah" moment when you
> first saw that Unix was special, especially compared to the systems 
> you'd
> previously used?
> Mine was: Oh, I can:
>   + write a simple script
>   + to edit a file on the fly
>   + with no temporary files (a la pipes)
>   + AND I can change the file suffix and the system won't stop me!

I'm a bit younger, first started playing with Unix systems in 1992, a 
Sun something running SunOS 4.1.something while in collage.  I just 
kinda assumed that this remote system I was accessing over a dial-up 
connection some some big-iron box, I mean, it had dozens of people 
logged into it at a time!  Of course it was something bigger than the PC 
I had at home.  When I first saw a Sun pizza-box, and realized it was 
the same class system I'd been logging into remotely, I was impressed, 
but was still sure it was some magic that made it way more special than 
the PC stuff I was used to.

I later learned about Linux and installed it on a 486DX-50 that had been 
slated to be a backup Novell box at my job.  This was a system that did 
a decent job at being a Novel server, its clone had ~45 systems attached 
to it in the student lab, was a file/print server, etc.  I knew that it 
was a beefy box for Windows (3.1, at the time), but with Linux... With 
Linux, I had X11 on the console, could be playing Doom, browse thew eb 
with Mosaic, etc, while a dozen+ CS students were logged in from the 
Wyse terminals in the next building, and it kept chugging along.

> I was using TOPS-20 beforehand.

I started out on home-PCs of the era: Commodore 64, Apple II, various 
CP/M systems, TI 99/4A, and of course MS/PC-DOS systems.  Unix showed me 
what a computer could really do.  I don't really remember being 
impressed with pipes, for some reason, they just made sense to me.  For 
me, the first time someone showed me xargs, that was cool. It was my 
introduction to command-line scripting.

> Cheers, Warren

Michael Parson
Pflugerville, TX

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