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SubjectRe: Fwd: Re: Microsoft and Xenix.
On Tuesday 26 June 2001 08:57, Patrick O'Callaghan wrote:
> Ah, fame at last :-)

You seem to have been inexplicably excluded from "a quarter century of unix"
by peter salus. (You're not in the index, anyway.) Haven't read "life with
unix" yet...

> I'm not on the linux-kernel list but a friend forwarded me this message:
> > Subject: Re: Microsoft and Xenix.
> > Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 18:11:01 +0100 (BST)
> > From: <>
> >
> > I first used Unix on a PDP11/44 whilst studying for my Computer
> > Engineering degree at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. I think
> > they and Queen Margaret
> > College, London were the first folk running Unix version 6 outside
> > Bell Labs.
> It was in fact a PDP-11/45. Unix 5th Edition was first installed by Peter
> De Souza around January 1975 (if anyone knows Peter's whereabouts please
> mail me; I know he emigrated to the US and I lost track of him). Anyway,
> the 11/45 had only 48kb of (core) memory, which was enough to boot the
> system and run the Shell but almost nothing else. We had to connect the
> machine to a neighbouring 11/20 with Unibus cable and a special bus switch
> box built in-house in order to do anything.

I'm a little fuzzy on how that would really improve things... It still
wouldn't have enough memory to run anything except the shell. (Ummm... You
skipped running the shell and booted straight to your app as process 1?)

> This quickly improved when we
> purchased a 256kb semiconductor memory board from Plessey (the DEC guy
> couldn't believe all that memory would fit on only one 19-inch board :-).

Sounds cool. Who's Plessey? (What was DEC selling at about that time? I
take it they hadn't made the jump to IC dram yet?)

Had anybody actually HEARD of Intel at this time? They seem to be a no-name
fringe DRAM player until the 4004. Their retroactive history makes it seem
quite noble, but I'm still not sure who they actually sold their DRAM -TO-...

> It cost 3000 quid.

Okay, a quid's a pound? (You are referring to the cost of the DRAM here?) I
have no idea what the exchange rate was back about then...

> We had 2 RK05 removable disks (2.5 Mb each!) and a paper
> tape reader. Note that we had no tape drive, and Unix came on a reel of
> tape, so we had to trudge around various places in the Edinburgh area doing
> media conversions on non-Unix machines. Oh how we laughed. We later bought
> an SMC 80Mb removable washing-machine style disk for I think about 15000
> pounds (for which we had to fight off the Control Engineering guys who
> wanted to buy a floating-point unit -- yes, the fp was emulated!).

How many different departments shared this box? What kind of things were
done on it?

> This system supported around 10 ASCII terminals via a DZ-11 serial-line
> multiplexor. Memory was so tight we couldn't run VI, but I wrote my PhD
> thesis on it (in NROFF) using George Coulouris' EM editor from Queen Mary
> College (not Queen Margaret). They were the first to run Unix in the UK
> along with us. I've never known who was really the first because of course
> there was no Internet, not even UUCP mail.

Ken Thompson would know, he sent out the tapes.

Peter Salus's book just says (page 70), "The United Kingdom, which had
received Unix in 1973..."


> We may even have been the first
> in Europe for all I know, though I think Andy Tanenbaum was fairly close
> behind.

I thought Tanenbaum worked at Bell Labs? (Did he just visit, or did he move
to europe after leaving the BTL?)

> Anyway, I'll not rabbit on. Those were the days when men were men, real
> programmers wrote assembler, and we didn't need no steenking GUIs (mumbles
> into beer).

And I'm writing a book about it. :)

> > If anyone knows where Patrick O'Callaghan is now (ask
> > him).
> I'm at Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, Venezuela. My home page is

And the mailing list we're discussing computing history on is:

(Yes, I am recruiting! :)

> Cheers
> poc


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