"In his 1979 paper on The Evolution of Unix, Dennis Ritchie said, 'One of the comforting things about old memories is their tendency to take on a rosy glow. The memory fixes on what was good and what lasted, and on the joy of helping to create the improvements that made life better.' I cherish a lot of memories of those good old days.
"The Unix room was, in some ways, ahead of the curve in providing a large open space with tables where people could work or just hang out. It was often noisy, but it made for very effective communication. Everyone had a private office, but everyone spent some time in the communal space, perhaps just for coffee, or to ask a question about how something worked. And when the system was small and the group was compact, it was also the place to hear about new ideas and new programs.
"I remember one day where the new 'pipe' feature had just been implemented in the shell. What a neat idea: take the output of one program and make it the input of another program. There was a frenzy of activity as people modified programs, so that they would work in pipelines, not just from file arguments. It probably only lasted a day (in my rosy memory) but, in some ways, it changed the world forever."
"Unix also was created at a time when we had keyboard input and minimal graphics capabilities. So the text processing software lost out to WYSIWYG methods. The result is that it's easier for me to create a table when writing it by hand; but it's more difficult to generate a table out of a software script. This suits the industry -- when success is measured by counting eyeballs, the industry likes programs that require the user to be personally present and paying attention. But it raises the effort required to link up multiple applications, which was a great strength of the pipe' mechanism on Unix."
Bill Joy reveals the beginnings of Berkeley Unix: "More than 30 years ago, I had changed Unix to run with virtual memory on the VAX. I was at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., hanging out with the original Unix research group. I was talking with Steve Bourne who, like me, had written a new 'shell' (command-line interpreter) for Unix.
"He mentioned another machine, in a different department, where they would love to have my newfangled Unix. One night, we stayed up all night and changed the OS -- when people came in the next morning, they had Berkeley Unix, rather than the internal (nonresearch) Bell Labs version they were previously running. It was quite an audacious change to make with no wide notice or permission requested (and, therefore, denied).
"But it all went quite smoothly; the new system was more reliable and faster. It was a coals-to-Newcastle moment and, for me, marked the arrival of Berkeley Unix as a real thing. Berkeley Unix, as it is well known, brought a quality implementation of the TCP/IP. It was really the first high-performance one and with, what is now called, software-defined networking.
"I have never understood the focus on hardware black boxes for networking. To me, software-defined networking was the way to go. Perhaps that's why Sun and Cisco were separate companies, even though both came out of Stanford and on similar hardware."
David Korn tells the cookie story, plus a true "Woody Allen moment":