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CTSS
September 17, 2012 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Computer Timesharing Systems Explained parts 1 and 2.

The video features Fernando J. "Corby" Corbató who led development of Compatible Time-Sharing System

CTSS spured development of the competing Incompatible Timesharing System. ITS was known for an innovative TApe Editor and COrrector, called TECO, which, by route of two macro packages TEMACS and TMACS, birthed EMACS.

Corby's second operating system, Multics was widely used until support was dropped bt AT&T. At a loss for a way to play Space War on a low power PDP-7 Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson sought to replace it, and started work on UNICS. By 1972 the name had changed to UNIX and boasted 10 installations worldwide, with more expected.
posted by Ad hominem (28 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
By 1972 the name had changed to UNIX and boasted 10 installations worldwide, with more expected.

Well don't leave us hanging! What happened?
posted by benito.strauss at 1:04 PM on September 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


I can't tell you how disappointed I am to live in an age when I don't have to work in ALL CAPS.

Lowercase? Emphasis? That's what your fountain pen is for, moron.
posted by fatbird at 1:09 PM on September 17, 2012


In late 1960 and early 1961, Don Bitzer's team at the Coordinated Science Lab at University of Illinois built time-sharing for the PLATO system that then ran on the ILLIAC-I. He demonstrated it in March 1961 at an event at Allerton Park. Bitzer filed a patent for time-sharing but the University, not used to filing patents in any timely manner back in those days, took their time filing. I'd love to know if the PLATO II timesharing demo happened before the CTSS demo.
posted by brianstorms at 1:09 PM on September 17, 2012


Well there was a fight, and for a long time we had BSD and AT&T versions of UNIX, and another version nobody's ever heard of. Not sure they ever made it to 11 installations.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:11 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I watched Apollo 13 the other day and hadn't really thought about the computing power required since I originally watched the movie back in 1995. I can't even begin to describe my thoughts about what the crew went through with that little computing power (and of course power usage) compared to what we have today.

Thank you previous nerds. I don't even feel worthy to compare myself to you.
posted by pyrex at 1:17 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Apollo guys were so hardcore they used bits of string for ROM.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:25 PM on September 17, 2012


Oh here is a CTSS Programmer's guide from 1963. It is 104 page PDF so be warned.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:43 PM on September 17, 2012


I saw a 7090 only once, but I worked on a lot of 1403's and 729's. Fun to watch them again.
I don't miss timesharing on a Selectric though- that would give me a headache after 15 minutes.
posted by MtDewd at 2:02 PM on September 17, 2012


I do not miss timesharing, in any of it's many flavors (and as an Old Fart I can assure you that I used more systems than I care to remember).
posted by Runes at 2:17 PM on September 17, 2012


Also: people really used to program in perl!
posted by xmutex at 2:51 PM on September 17, 2012


Also: people really used to program in perl!

How dare you!

YAPH
posted by hardcode at 2:55 PM on September 17, 2012


Hmm.. I guess I was a "Multician." I worked as a programmer at the USGS back around 1980, we ran timeshare on their Multics system in Denver. I worked on porting horribly obsolete FORTRAN II programs (from an old IBM 709 I think) to run on FORTRAN V. I poked around and found a representative example of the type of coding we did (I didn't work on that particular project). Oh god that is horrible code.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:01 PM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do not miss timesharing, in any of it's many flavors (and as an Old Fart I can assure you that I used more systems than I care to remember).

Shoot Runes, the just call it "distributed processing" today and it's used with "lightweight apps". ;-)
posted by BillW at 5:12 PM on September 17, 2012


I'm really kind of jealous. The older creakiest thing I ever got to work on was a System/36, but those were still sold until 2000 even. It did have a room sized line printer though, maybe a 1403 even. Those were around for a lot of years no?
posted by Ad hominem at 5:15 PM on September 17, 2012


Oh you poor kids, suffering with only a S/36. When I was your age, we didn't have no stinkin S/36, we used S/360 and we liked it.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:38 PM on September 17, 2012


S/360

Jesus,Loot at that thing. I just want to run up and flip those switches to see if it starts spitting out punchcards like in those old movies.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:01 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't you dare get near those switches. Unauthorized personnel who get within arms length of the Emergency Stop button are likely to be killed.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:41 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here is ITS running on an emulator and TOPS-20
posted by Ad hominem at 8:33 PM on September 17, 2012


YAPH
posted by hardcode at 3:25 on September 18

hard code is indeed why I'm no longer APH.
posted by vanar sena at 6:33 AM on September 18, 2012


a room sized line printer though, maybe a 1403 even. Those were around for a lot of years no?
The 1403 came out in 1959 and was THE printer of choice until bigger, faster ones came out a dozen years later. They (and their clones) were everywhere until the mid-70's.
The last one I worked on was around 1985, when they went off IBM support, but there were still some around, here and there, for a long time. Last time I was in the Library of Congress computer room around 2001 there was a 1403 still powered on.
posted by MtDewd at 7:50 AM on September 18, 2012


Also: people really used to program in perl!

What, they don't still? Crap, I must've missed another memo.
posted by jferg at 8:37 AM on September 18, 2012


The video appears to be a version of the MIT/WGBH Science Reporter film A Solution to Computer Bottlenecks; the Computer History Museum has posted a version in one part.
posted by nonane at 9:57 AM on September 18, 2012


I realized the other day that I am now officially the Old Guy in the IT department. During a conversation with a half dozen or so folks on the topic of old-computers-I-once-used, noone knew IBM made more than PCs, "Mainframes" (s/360 decedents), the "really old Sun mainframe" one guy used wasn't a Sun-3 or even a Sparcserver, but a Sun Fire 6500, everyone thought Unisys only did IT services and that Data General and Digital Equipment were the same company and noone had heard of a VAX.
posted by kjs3 at 6:13 PM on September 18, 2012


LOL old man. It seems like nobody remembers IBM and the Seven Dwarves. Those were the good old days. But compared to me, you're probably just a kid. I can still remember learning to use my Dad's Burroughs Sensimatic mechanical tabulator. And I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:13 PM on September 18, 2012


My uncle had a calculator like this one. It was the coolest machine I ever played with as a kid.
posted by MtDewd at 2:22 PM on September 19, 2012


Electromechanical calculator? Lazy bum, real mechanical calculators have a spring-loaded lever. My dad had this Burroughs calculator. It only adds and subtracts but that's good enough for accounting work.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:48 PM on September 19, 2012


I'm re-reading Pattern Recognition now, so my feeling is that real mechanical calculators look like a pepper mill.
(Also amused when Cayce goes into a restaurant called 'Charlie don't Surf')
posted by MtDewd at 8:46 AM on September 25, 2012


I was horrified to discover there was a level in Call of Duty 4 titled "Charlie Don't Surf." It's a squad of helicopters invading, like the scene in Apocalypse Now. Now everyone will think my pseudonym is a gamer reference.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:53 PM on September 25, 2012


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