Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Kids Today Have No Idea

One of the downsides of getting old is that every so often something triggers the Grumpy Grandpa. You kids have no idea what it was like back in the day! You need to watch Rob Pike's video to learn where the hardware and software you take for granted came from!

I'm eight years to the day older than Rob, so I got to work with even earlier technology than he did. As far as I know, Rob never encountered the IBM1401, the PDP-7 with its 340 display, the Titan and its time-sharing system, 7-hole paper tape and Flexowriters, or the horrible Data General Nova mini-computer.  I never used an IBM System /360, but we did both work with CDC machines, and punch cards.

I think Rob and I started on PDP-11s at about the same time in 1975, me on RSX-11M at Imperial and Rob on Unix at Toronto. Rob was always much closer to the center of the Unix universe than I was in the UK, but the Unix history he recounts was mine too, from Version 6 on. Rob's talk is a must-watch video.


Geoff said...

I'd like to see more retrospectives about the old days, because they presented some really interesting problems to solve. Not necessarily relevant today… although I don't know....

And yes, I used an IBM 360, and most of the PDP-* (from 7 to 15).

David. said...

Andy Petrizio's Long gone, DEC is still powering the world of computing traces the influence of DEC and its alumni on today's systems:

"Even though very few of the early players in technology still exist, we use their creations to this day. Bell Labs created the transistor, and Fairchild Semiconductor created the integrated circuit, but neither company is still around. So is the case with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). It no longer exists, but unless you're using a handheld device to read this article, you're using a descendant of DEC technology."

David. said...

Although my first attempt at programming was in 1966 at the Haberdasher's Aske's School, my first hands-on programming was at Cambridge in what was then known as the Mathematical Laboratory under its second director, the late Maurice Wilkes. The University hosted an "affectionate tribute", a series of 20-minute talks in his memory that is worth watching.