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

David david at kdbarto.org
Fri Oct 11 09:49:23 AEST 2019

> On Oct 10, 2019, at 4:35 PM, Bakul Shah <bakul at bitblocks.com> wrote:
> On Oct 10, 2019, at 1:55 PM, Warren Toomey <wkt at tuhs.org> 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 was using TOPS-20 beforehand.
>> Cheers, Warren

I was at UCSD on the Pascal project, so I was used to using a machine with
a nice editor and had access to the OS source code to play with and learn from.
When UCSD spun the Pascal project out to SofTech MicroSystems I moved as
well. SofTech had a pdp 11/45 running V6 with the famous patch tape.

We called it V6.9.

When I first logged in, it was just a feeling of simplicity and elegance. I could
edit files, move them around on the disk, and when I was curious about what
was happening under the covers, I could go look at the sources.

Aha - I could use the shell to script the formatting of text files making the task
of generating new printed documentation for the Pascal Project something
as easy as saying ./printdocs.sh. After that it was all nroff, vi, and C compiler
experiences, learning what really made this system tick.

Back at UCSD I got access to the VAX (sdcsvax) and did all of my homework
there never again returning to the Pascal system on the Terak boxes.

Never looked back, I’ve been using Unix as my OS ever since.


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