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

Seth J. Morabito web at loomcom.com
Fri Oct 11 09:10:02 AEST 2019

Warren Toomey writes:

> 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?

A fun topic!

I'm a bit on the young side, so Unix was my first exposure to any kind
of timesharing or multi-user system. Prior to getting access to MIPS
Ultrix 4.2 on a DECstation, my experience consisted ENTIRELY of:

    * 8-bit systems, mainly Commodore 64 and Tandy TRS-80
    * The Commodore Amiga 1000 and 500
    * DOS and Windows 3.0 in the form of an IBM PC XT and a PS/2

Then, when I arrived at Cornell University in 1992, I discovered that
there was a network of three clustered DECstations, sharing about 2GB
(!) of system and user disk space. Enormous!

As an avid reader of BYTE Magazine, I had _heard_ of Unix in the trade
press, but I didn't honestly know what it was. I was plunged head first
into it as a user, and quickly found myself addicted. I did get some
guidance from a few experienced users, so I wasn't completely on my
own. I owe them quite a bit for their patience and guidance.

For me, the "Aha!" moment was entirely related to being attached to
Usenet and the Internet. The fact that I could suddently read email
(with the RAND MH system) and Usenet (with nn) and communicate with all
of these very clever people all over the world was positively

My love only grew when I discovered that there was a C compiler
installed, and that I could build my own programs from source downloaded
by FTP. Later, Perl 4 was installed, and I learned how to write my own
programs. It was an exciting time in my young life.

Seth Morabito
Poulsbo, WA, USA
web at loomcom.com

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