Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Backstory on Time-Share Computing

In chapter 4 of my Perl::PDQ book, "Linux Load Average—Take a Load Off" and Appendix B "A Short History of Buffers," I briefly refer to the history of Unix and ultimately Linux via Multics, starting with the original MIT project called CTSS (Compatible Time-sharing System). My purpose there was to point out that the load average metric is the earliest example of O/S performance instrumentation. Naturally then, the following 5-part series in the NYT on the development of time-share computers caught my attention:
These accounts are noteworthy because they are written by the brother of one of the developers (of early email—depending on how you define email) and the author is a journalist, so he interviewed some of the personalities (who are now getting on a bit).

There are also lots of fascinating photos.

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