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

arnold at skeeve.com arnold at skeeve.com
Mon Oct 14 01:33:09 AEST 2019

Warren Toomey <wkt at tuhs.org> wrote:

> 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?

I first met Unix in the fall of 1980, after a two-year hiatus from
college. Up to then, I'd only used Sperry Univac mainframes and a
weird Xerox computer (only a little) and punch cards on an IBM 1130.

In the interim, the college gave the undergrads access to a PDP-11/70
at the med school running IS/1 - Interactive Systems' commercial version
of V6.  No access for us to source code, though. :-(

I/O redirection and space separated arguments were really cool, as well
as pipelines. Light years ahead of anything else.

More or less simultaneously, someone lent me their copies of "Software Tools"
and "The C Programming Language" (which I immediately got my own copies
of). Software Tools opened my eyes to the whole Unix philosophy.

K&R was so dense that my head was swimming after the first read.  I then
read it through again, and everything pretty much clicked.

I decided pretty quickly during the course of that first year with Unix
that I only wanted to work with C and Unix. Both were so far ahead of
everything else...


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