[TUHS] What was your "Aha, Unix!" moment?
wlc at jctaylor.com
Sat Oct 26 10:57:57 AEST 2019
The year was 1986. Top Gun was in the theaters. Lionel Ritchie was belting out “Say you, say me” on serious overplay.
I was working on the coolest machine I ever saw. The Motorola S290. Initially, we had System III and eventually System V. At the time, I learned MS DOS months before I was exposed to UNIX. I could not understand how a new small Motorola UNIX Super-microcomputer could have such an extensive set of documentation. I had to read these huge books to learn this same system could run computers from DEC and others. These UNIX books were so extensive and I found there were two ways to use UNIX: (1) sign on to the system at at work; or, (2) sign on to the system in my imagination. Both were equally as fun.
The Motorola S290 had a small DPU tower called Data Processing Unit and several other similar shaped small towers linked by a SCSI bus that housed 5.25” devices of the day. This included 50MB hard disks, Wangtek Streaming Tape Drive.
Yes! You could mount a streaming tape as a block device! It would “shoe shine” the tape heads if you “cd” into a formatted tape. It was not practical as a block device, but it worked.
The Motorola S290 DPU ran a primary operating system called ISOS. It was UNIX like. But not UNIX. Boot disks had to have an ISOS partition and a UNIX partition.
The Motorola S290 would first boot ISOS. Then, UNIX would start afterwards.
ISOS has similar UNIX commands like “cd”, “ls”, and “ps”
After working in a UNIX shell one day, I signed on to ISOS. I wanted to understand how UNIX integrated with ISOS.
What blew my 1986 kid mind: After signing on to ISOS, I did a “ps”
PID PPID ... COMMAND
123 2 “/UNIX”
Aha UNIX! UNIX was a process running under ISOS!
> On Oct 10, 2019, at 4:56 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
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