When Bell Labs withdrew from the Multics research consortium,
Ken Thompson was left with some Multics-inspired ideas about how to
build a file system. He was also left without a machine on which to
play a game he had written called Space Travel, a science-fiction
simulation that involved navigating a rocket through the solar
system. Unix began its life on a scavenged
minicomputer like the one shown in Figure2.1, as a platform for the Space Travel game and a
testbed for Thompson's ideas about operating system design.
Later, Doug McIlroy would write of this period [McIlroy91]: “Peer pressure and simple pride in
workmanship caused gobs of code to be rewritten or discarded as better
or more basic ideas emerged. Professional rivalry and protection of
turf were practically unknown: so many good things were happening that
nobody needed to be proprietary about innovations”. But it
would take another quarter century for all the implications of that
observation to come home.
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