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* [TUHS] AT&T Research
@ 2020-07-11  1:08 John P. Linderman
  2020-07-11  1:32 ` Larry McVoy
  2020-07-11 15:36 ` Clem Cole
  0 siblings, 2 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: John P. Linderman @ 2020-07-11  1:08 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society


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I'm hearing that 50% of what's left of AT&T research got the axe today.
I'm hoping to hear from friends about details.
God's gift to google, as we have said in the past.

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* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
  2020-07-11  1:08 [TUHS] AT&T Research John P. Linderman
@ 2020-07-11  1:32 ` Larry McVoy
  2020-07-11  1:51   ` John P. Linderman
  2020-07-11 15:36 ` Clem Cole
  1 sibling, 1 reply; 19+ messages in thread
From: Larry McVoy @ 2020-07-11  1:32 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: John P. Linderman; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

Well that sucks but Bell Labs has not been Bell Labs for a long time.
I think most of us here know what Bell Labs contributed to the world,
you youngsters who don't know, look it up, it is one of the greatest
research/business stories in history.

On Fri, Jul 10, 2020 at 09:08:51PM -0400, John P. Linderman wrote:
> I'm hearing that 50% of what's left of AT&T research got the axe today.
> I'm hoping to hear from friends about details.
> God's gift to google, as we have said in the past.

-- 
---
Larry McVoy            	     lm at mcvoy.com             http://www.mcvoy.com/lm 

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
  2020-07-11  1:32 ` Larry McVoy
@ 2020-07-11  1:51   ` John P. Linderman
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: John P. Linderman @ 2020-07-11  1:51 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Larry McVoy; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society


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Every "divestiture" had an adverse effect on critical mass. The split
between AT&T and Bellcore was a big hurt.
The split between AT&T and Lucent was another. When I joined the Labs in
1973, it was an honor to work there.
I don't see anything special about any of the remaining fragments, and they
seem to be determined to make
themselves less and less attractive. ("Come work for AT&T instead of Google
and we'll allow you to spend
several weeks each year training for strike duty for which you'll have to
be prepared to show up on 48 hours notice,
and, by the way, that vacation time you cannot take because you have to
have to remain available cannot be
carried over.") -- jpl

On Fri, Jul 10, 2020 at 9:32 PM Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:

> Well that sucks but Bell Labs has not been Bell Labs for a long time.
> I think most of us here know what Bell Labs contributed to the world,
> you youngsters who don't know, look it up, it is one of the greatest
> research/business stories in history.
>
> On Fri, Jul 10, 2020 at 09:08:51PM -0400, John P. Linderman wrote:
> > I'm hearing that 50% of what's left of AT&T research got the axe today.
> > I'm hoping to hear from friends about details.
> > God's gift to google, as we have said in the past.
>
> --
> ---
> Larry McVoy                  lm at mcvoy.com
> http://www.mcvoy.com/lm
>

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* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
  2020-07-11  1:08 [TUHS] AT&T Research John P. Linderman
  2020-07-11  1:32 ` Larry McVoy
@ 2020-07-11 15:36 ` Clem Cole
  2020-07-11 20:30   ` Warren Toomey
  1 sibling, 1 reply; 19+ messages in thread
From: Clem Cole @ 2020-07-11 15:36 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: John P. Linderman; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society


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https://spinroot.com/pico/watertower.jpg

On Fri, Jul 10, 2020 at 9:10 PM John P. Linderman <jpl.jpl@gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm hearing that 50% of what's left of AT&T research got the axe today.
> I'm hoping to hear from friends about details.
> God's gift to google, as we have said in the past.
>

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* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
  2020-07-11 15:36 ` Clem Cole
@ 2020-07-11 20:30   ` Warren Toomey
  2020-07-11 20:36     ` Jon Steinhart
                       ` (3 more replies)
  0 siblings, 4 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: Warren Toomey @ 2020-07-11 20:30 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Clem Cole; +Cc: tuhs

On Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 11:36:35AM -0400, Clem Cole wrote:
>    https://spinroot.com/pico/watertower.jpg

So there's a question. Obviously all the anecdotes I've heard about
Bell Labs have come from Unix people. But there were many others
working and researching there.

How was the interaction between the Unix people and the non-Unix people
at the Labs? Especially when Unix became "big"? Did the non-Unix people
also pull pranks like the watertower?

Cheers, Warren

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
  2020-07-11 20:30   ` Warren Toomey
@ 2020-07-11 20:36     ` Jon Steinhart
  2020-07-11 21:58     ` Rob Pike
                       ` (2 subsequent siblings)
  3 siblings, 0 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: Jon Steinhart @ 2020-07-11 20:36 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs

Warren Toomey writes:
> On Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 11:36:35AM -0400, Clem Cole wrote:
> >    https://spinroot.com/pico/watertower.jpg
>
> So there's a question. Obviously all the anecdotes I've heard about
> Bell Labs have come from Unix people. But there were many others
> working and researching there.
>
> How was the interaction between the Unix people and the non-Unix people
> at the Labs? Especially when Unix became "big"? Did the non-Unix people
> also pull pranks like the watertower?
>
> Cheers, Warren

That's kind of a strange question.  I was never a "UNIX person" when I was
there because UNIX just wasn't that big a deal then (versions 3-6).  I worked
on other stuff, and used UNIX for documentation.  I was intrigued and learned
a lot more about it, and hung out in the UNIX room late at night because it
was the place to be, but UNIX was a negligible blip compared to everything
else going on there.  Astonishingly enough, people worked on things related
(even if tangentially) to telephony.

Jon

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
  2020-07-11 20:30   ` Warren Toomey
  2020-07-11 20:36     ` Jon Steinhart
@ 2020-07-11 21:58     ` Rob Pike
  2020-07-11 22:29       ` Larry McVoy
  2020-07-12  2:22     ` [TUHS] BTL pranks [was AT&T Research] Doug McIlroy
  2020-07-23  4:13     ` [TUHS] AT&T Research scj
  3 siblings, 1 reply; 19+ messages in thread
From: Rob Pike @ 2020-07-11 21:58 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Warren Toomey; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society


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The interactions were great. Research at least was a multidisciplinary
utopia, in my experience. People knew what was going on in other
departments, talks were open to anyone who wanted to attend, and doors were
always open. During my time there, I worked or at least had substantive
conversations with mathematicians, physicists, statisticians, astronomers,
acoustics researchers, and many others. Various eople in 1127 had
longer-term collaborations with essentially every other group in Murray
Hill at one time or another.

It was an environment of sharing progress, ideas, and advancements.

Not everyone played with the rest, and we didn't do as much work with
development was management asked, but that world was very special. I miss
it every day.

But to answer your question: Yes, there were many pranks by many
pranksters, but the water tower was undoubtedly the most visible.

-rob


On Sun, Jul 12, 2020 at 6:32 AM Warren Toomey <wkt@tuhs.org> wrote:

> On Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 11:36:35AM -0400, Clem Cole wrote:
> >    https://spinroot.com/pico/watertower.jpg
>
> So there's a question. Obviously all the anecdotes I've heard about
> Bell Labs have come from Unix people. But there were many others
> working and researching there.
>
> How was the interaction between the Unix people and the non-Unix people
> at the Labs? Especially when Unix became "big"? Did the non-Unix people
> also pull pranks like the watertower?
>
> Cheers, Warren
>

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* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
  2020-07-11 21:58     ` Rob Pike
@ 2020-07-11 22:29       ` Larry McVoy
  2020-07-12  7:55         ` Ed Bradford
  0 siblings, 1 reply; 19+ messages in thread
From: Larry McVoy @ 2020-07-11 22:29 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Rob Pike; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

On Sun, Jul 12, 2020 at 07:58:01AM +1000, Rob Pike wrote:
> Not everyone played with the rest, and we didn't do as much work with
> development was management asked, but that world was very special. I miss
> it every day.

I'm super jealous of your experiences there.  I've told anyone who would
listen that Bell Labs held more of what I'd call my heroes than any other
place.

I went to Sun because it was as close as I could get in my day, and it was
good, but Bell Labs seems like it was magic.

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* [TUHS] BTL pranks [was AT&T Research]
@ 2020-07-12  2:22     ` Doug McIlroy
  2020-07-12 11:58       ` [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker (was: BTL pranks) Michael Kjörling
  0 siblings, 1 reply; 19+ messages in thread
From: Doug McIlroy @ 2020-07-12  2:22 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs


> Did the non-Unix people also pull pranks like the watertower?

One of my favorites was by John Kelly, a Texas original,
who refused the department-head perk of a rug so he
could stamp his cigarettes out on the vinyl floor.

John came from Visual and Acoustics Research, where
digital signal processing pressed the frontiers of
computing. Among his publications was the completely
synthetic recording of "Daisy, Daisy" released
circa 1963.

Kelly electrified the computer center with a
blockbuster prank a year or two before that. As
was typical of many machine rooms, a loudspeaker
hooked to the low-order bit of the accumulator
played gentle white noise in the background. The
noise would turn into a shriek when the computer
got into a tight loop, calling the operators to
put the program out of its misery.

Out of the blue one day, the loudspeaker called
for help more articulately: "Help, I'm caught in
a loop. Help, I'm caught in a loop. ..." it
intoned in a slow Texas drawl. News of the talking
computer spread instantly and folks croweded into
the machine room to marvel before the operators
freed the poor prisoner.

Doug

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
  2020-07-11 22:29       ` Larry McVoy
@ 2020-07-12  7:55         ` Ed Bradford
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: Ed Bradford @ 2020-07-12  7:55 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Larry McVoy, TUHS main list


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2020-07-12

Indian Hill, Columbus, Whippany, Holmdel, and
other BTL sites worked on automating the Telephone
system. A lot of the software was designed,
implemented, and deployed into the telcos
and AT&T Longlines on Unix. Operating telcos welcomed
all Unix based systems. I worked on the NOC
(Network Operating Center) in Bedminster, NJ, and
the LMOS (Loop Maintenance Operations system)
both of which were designed, implemented, and
deployed using Unix as the operating system. Unix
was a huge thing throughout the labs for
developing solutions for the Telcos from 1976 onwards.

I was at BTL from 1976-1983 and traveled to
Murray Hill often. I met and engaged with many of
the folks (Feldman, Chesson, Aho, Bourne,
Thompson, Ritchie, Lesk, Weinberger, and even
Doug). All of them were welcoming and
extremely patient with me and to this day I
remember all of them.

Unix was a godsend to me after having to deal
with IBM operating systems for scientific
calculations. I arrived into BTL in 1976
in Columbus, Ohio and all I had ever used before was
punched cards and OS/360 systems. (cbunix uber
alles :-).

"Messages" and "semaphores" were what
was in the Unix (cbunix) we used and I don't recall who
implemented them.("Messages" was interprocess
messages. I even forget how they worked, but using
"messages", I implemented inter-processor
messages where processes on one computer could msg
processes on a 2nd computer without any
modification to the Unix source code.)

The most depressing thing even to today is the
deplorable lack of wisdom demonstrated by IBM,
Microsoft, and AT&T in bringing computing to the
public. LSX could have been deployed on the first
IBM PC (1982). I suspect IBM and its vaunted research
lab and Gates/Allen were singularly ignorant of
the revolutionary ideas from 1127 even in
1981. AT&T was complicit by holding Unix close to
its chest (in search of profit) while enjoying a
government protected monopoly.

Indeed, after spending 17 years in IBM, it is
more than likely IBM was arrogant and dismissive of
'unix' (as was DEC - Digital Equipment Corporation)
and especially the C programming language.
One only needs to look at the source code of AIX
to see that all of Doug's "principals" were
missing and presumed dead in the IBM AIX software
culture.

No software invention in the world of computing
compares to what Ken, Dennis and 1127
folks have given the world. Now, 50 years later,
the world is embracing Unix.

There is a political story here about excellence
and profit and how they relate; not to be
told by me, here.

Ed

PS: I spent approximately 2 hours trying
to get the presentation of this post to look
like what I produced in gvim (vi = Bill Joy).
All formatting WORK is a direct result
of Bill Gates (and Steve Jobs) not understanding
or listening to Doug and his principles of
text, simplicity, and pipes.

On Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 5:30 PM Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:

> On Sun, Jul 12, 2020 at 07:58:01AM +1000, Rob Pike wrote:
> > Not everyone played with the rest, and we didn't do as much work with
> > development was management asked, but that world was very special. I miss
> > it every day.
>
> I'm super jealous of your experiences there.  I've told anyone who would
> listen that Bell Labs held more of what I'd call my heroes than any other
> place.
>
> I went to Sun because it was as close as I could get in my day, and it was
> good, but Bell Labs seems like it was magic.
>


-- 
Advice is judged by results, not by intentions.
  Cicero

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* Re: [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker (was: BTL pranks)
  2020-07-12  2:22     ` [TUHS] BTL pranks [was AT&T Research] Doug McIlroy
@ 2020-07-12 11:58       ` Michael Kjörling
  2020-07-12 13:25         ` Dan Cross
  2020-07-12 14:58         ` Robert Clausecker
  0 siblings, 2 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: Michael Kjörling @ 2020-07-12 11:58 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: coff; +Cc: tuhs

(This should probably be on COFF because I don't think this has much
to do with UNIX.)


On 11 Jul 2020 22:22 -0400, from doug@cs.dartmouth.edu (Doug McIlroy):
> a loudspeaker hooked to the low-order bit of the accumulator played
> gentle white noise in the background. The noise would turn into a
> shriek when the computer got into a tight loop,

How did that work? I can see how tying the low-order bit of the
accumulator to a loudspeaker would generate white noise as the
computer is doing work; but I fail to see how doing so would even
somewhat reliably generate a shrieking sound when the computer is in a
tight loop. Please, enlighten me. :-)

-- 
Michael Kjörling • https://michael.kjorling.se • michael@kjorling.se
 “Remember when, on the Internet, nobody cared that you were a dog?”


^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker (was: BTL pranks)
  2020-07-12 11:58       ` [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker (was: BTL pranks) Michael Kjörling
@ 2020-07-12 13:25         ` Dan Cross
  2020-07-12 14:58         ` Robert Clausecker
  1 sibling, 0 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: Dan Cross @ 2020-07-12 13:25 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Michael Kjörling
  Cc: Computer Old Farts Followers, The Eunuchs Hysterical Society


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On Sun, Jul 12, 2020 at 7:59 AM Michael Kjörling <michael@kjorling.se>
wrote:

> (This should probably be on COFF because I don't think this has much
> to do with UNIX.)
>
>
> On 11 Jul 2020 22:22 -0400, from doug@cs.dartmouth.edu (Doug McIlroy):
> > a loudspeaker hooked to the low-order bit of the accumulator played
> > gentle white noise in the background. The noise would turn into a
> > shriek when the computer got into a tight loop,
>
> How did that work? I can see how tying the low-order bit of the
> accumulator to a loudspeaker would generate white noise as the
> computer is doing work; but I fail to see how doing so would even
> somewhat reliably generate a shrieking sound when the computer is in a
> tight loop. Please, enlighten me. :-)
>

I would imagine a cap as a low-pass filter and a transistor as a poor-man's
analog comparator triggering a tape player on loop.

        - Dan C.

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* Re: [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker (was: BTL pranks)
  2020-07-12 11:58       ` [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker (was: BTL pranks) Michael Kjörling
  2020-07-12 13:25         ` Dan Cross
@ 2020-07-12 14:58         ` Robert Clausecker
  2020-07-12 16:09           ` [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker Al Kossow
  1 sibling, 1 reply; 19+ messages in thread
From: Robert Clausecker @ 2020-07-12 14:58 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: coff, tuhs

When the computer is in a tight endless loop, the accumulator takes the
same series of values every time it's in the loop.  Thus, instead of
white noise you get a sound whose frequency is the clock frequency of
the machine divided by the number of cycles spent by one loop iteration.

That's how you know that the machine is stuck in an endless loop: if it
was doing something useful, the values would change every iteration and
you would get white noise again.

Yours,
Robert C

On Sun, Jul 12, 2020 at 11:58:11AM +0000, Michael Kjörling wrote:
> (This should probably be on COFF because I don't think this has much
> to do with UNIX.)
> 
> 
> On 11 Jul 2020 22:22 -0400, from doug@cs.dartmouth.edu (Doug McIlroy):
> > a loudspeaker hooked to the low-order bit of the accumulator played
> > gentle white noise in the background. The noise would turn into a
> > shriek when the computer got into a tight loop,
> 
> How did that work? I can see how tying the low-order bit of the
> accumulator to a loudspeaker would generate white noise as the
> computer is doing work; but I fail to see how doing so would even
> somewhat reliably generate a shrieking sound when the computer is in a
> tight loop. Please, enlighten me. :-)
> 
> -- 
> Michael Kjörling • https://michael.kjorling.se • michael@kjorling.se
>  “Remember when, on the Internet, nobody cared that you were a dog?”
> 

-- 
()  ascii ribbon campaign - for an 8-bit clean world 
/\  - against html email  - against proprietary attachments

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker
  2020-07-12 14:58         ` Robert Clausecker
@ 2020-07-12 16:09           ` Al Kossow
  2020-07-12 20:10             ` [TUHS] Fwd: " Rich Morin
  0 siblings, 1 reply; 19+ messages in thread
From: Al Kossow @ 2020-07-12 16:09 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs

On 7/12/20 7:58 AM, Robert Clausecker wrote:

> That's how you know that the machine is stuck in an endless loop: if it
> was doing something useful, the values would change every iteration and
> you would get white noise again.

Computers are capable of generating PWM speech with a single bit output

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIejqWEV_8w

is an example on the Apple II

or multi-voice music using multiple bits

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTaVffknxEY

the sound is not 'white noise' which implies totally random output
any loop in the code will produce a unique sound when it is running




^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* [TUHS] Fwd:  Monitoring by loudspeaker
  2020-07-12 16:09           ` [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker Al Kossow
@ 2020-07-12 20:10             ` Rich Morin
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: Rich Morin @ 2020-07-12 20:10 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: TUHS main list


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On the CDC 3800, the top three bits of the accumulator were scaled and summed by a set of three resistors, then fed into the console speaker.  Generally, this produced noise of very little interest (except to indicate that the machine was running).

However, when I ran my Shellsort (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellsort <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellsort>), the speaker made a very distinctive sound.  It was a series of rising tones whose durations got shorter and shorter.   Something like Vwooooooooooop, Vwooooooop, Vwooooop, Vroop, ...

-r


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* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
  2020-07-11 20:30   ` Warren Toomey
                       ` (2 preceding siblings ...)
  2020-07-12  2:22     ` [TUHS] BTL pranks [was AT&T Research] Doug McIlroy
@ 2020-07-23  4:13     ` scj
  2020-07-23  6:02       ` [TUHS] Technical decisions based on political considerations [was Re: AT&T Research] arnold
  3 siblings, 1 reply; 19+ messages in thread
From: scj @ 2020-07-23  4:13 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Warren Toomey; +Cc: tuhs

I think that's an interesting topic.  I interned at BTL for three 
summers before coming on permanently in 1967.  At the time, it was 
running an IBM 7090 (later 7094) with a home-grown operating system.  
Punched card decks were put on mag tape and fed to the system in 
batches.  There was no memory protection, so after running one job the 
system would checksum itself to make sure it was sane.  At one point, 
someone was testing a sort routine that ran amock and sorted a good 
portion of the OS, but not the checksum routine, which did an exclusive 
OR of the instructions and attempted to run the next job.  The 
instruction core dump was quite amusing.

One of the first computer games I became aware of happened on that 
mainframe.  It was called "Darwin", and was a contest.  Each contestant 
submitted a card deck, and there was a monitor that ran the program--its 
object was to attack other programs by returning an address.  If the 
address was protected, you died and the other program reproduced itself 
in your place.  Otherwise, they died and you reproduced yourself.   The 
game ran for several weeks until a program described to me as "all 
teeth, claws and sex organs" proved to be unbeatable.

In my opinion, the initial view of Unix at Bell Labs was quite negative. 
  After all, these were the people who promised Multics with great hype 
and failed to deliver.  When I started work in 1067, I was given a memo 
that began "In six months, we expect the dominant programming language 
at Bell Labs to be PL/1."
There were some amazing simulation programs written in assembler with 
macros -- all of these were lost when the comp center pushed everyone on 
to FORTRAN.

I actually think it was a good thing that Unix in the early days was not 
taken seriously. Having users is a mixed blessing when the rate of 
change was rapid.  For example, the transition from B to C to C with 
strong typing would have driven most application developers bonkers when 
they were trying to serve their customers.

One of the things that got me interested in management was visiting a 
number of groups with my then boss, Eliot Pinson, to try to "sell" Unix. 
  It was amazing to me that some groups that urgently needed it were 
unwilling to try it, while groups that were doing just fine without it 
embraced it and ran with it.  The technical people I met all seemed 
competent -- it must be the management that was the difference...

---


On 2020-07-11 13:30, Warren Toomey wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 11:36:35AM -0400, Clem Cole wrote:
>>    https://spinroot.com/pico/watertower.jpg
> 
> So there's a question. Obviously all the anecdotes I've heard about
> Bell Labs have come from Unix people. But there were many others
> working and researching there.
> 
> How was the interaction between the Unix people and the non-Unix people
> at the Labs? Especially when Unix became "big"? Did the non-Unix people
> also pull pranks like the watertower?
> 
> Cheers, Warren

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* [TUHS] Technical decisions based on political considerations [was Re: AT&T Research]
  2020-07-23  4:13     ` [TUHS] AT&T Research scj
@ 2020-07-23  6:02       ` arnold
  2020-07-23 14:42         ` Larry McVoy
  0 siblings, 1 reply; 19+ messages in thread
From: arnold @ 2020-07-23  6:02 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: wkt, scj; +Cc: tuhs

scj@yaccman.com wrote:

> The technical people I met all seemed 
> competent -- it must be the management that was the difference...

<rant>
I saw this *a lot* when I worked at Intel; being forced to use
the wrong tools for software development because of political
considerations instead of technical ones.  One of the reasons I
was super glad to leave there and why I think that Intel as a
whole will never make it as a software company. (There are pockets
there that understand software, but the majority of the company
does not.)
</rant>

Sorry,

Arnold

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Technical decisions based on political considerations [was Re: AT&T Research]
  2020-07-23  6:02       ` [TUHS] Technical decisions based on political considerations [was Re: AT&T Research] arnold
@ 2020-07-23 14:42         ` Larry McVoy
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: Larry McVoy @ 2020-07-23 14:42 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: arnold; +Cc: tuhs

Amen to both comments.  Especially Intel, I'm so happy to not be
dealing with them.  Just an example, they used Netapp's mirroring
stuff - stuff that says in big bold letters "Mirrors are read only,
you may not write to them".  Of course they wrote to them and it 
didn't go well. 

They were using BitKeeper and they cloned a repo to a mirror.  
A clone in BK is basically

	( cd from; tar cf - . ) | (mkdir to; cd to; tar xf -; bk repocheck)

It is more complicated than that, it doesn't do a tar, it finds all the
SCCS files and transfers those and a handful of etc files.  And it has
a bill of materials file that lists all the SCCS files.  So a repocheck
is sort of like

	find . -name 's.*'  | check that list against the bill of materials

When we unpacked the files and went to go look for them, half the files
that we just wrote were "not there".  They were there but there were no
entries for them in the directory so it looked like they were not there.

Intel said that BitKeeper was broken.  For 3 months.  After I gave 
them scripts that replicated what BitKeeper was doing but had no
BitKeeper in them.  After tuning those scripts so their so-called
filer validation team could use them as a test system to verify
that the filers worked.

As a kernel guy, I did the most in depth work in file systems. I
know what I'm talking about.  But Intel said it was all Bitkeeper's
fault.  It wasn't, it was just that BitKeeper was the only application
they had that did integrity checks.

They finally backed down when I called Steve Kleinman who was CTO
at Netapp and my mentor at Sun, he immediately said yeah, I know,
it's us, that mirror shit sucks.  And he called Intel.

Intel is just an awful company.  I know they pay Clem's bills, go
Cleam, but Intel sucks.

On Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 12:02:04AM -0600, arnold@skeeve.com wrote:
> scj@yaccman.com wrote:
> 
> > The technical people I met all seemed 
> > competent -- it must be the management that was the difference...
> 
> <rant>
> I saw this *a lot* when I worked at Intel; being forced to use
> the wrong tools for software development because of political
> considerations instead of technical ones.  One of the reasons I
> was super glad to leave there and why I think that Intel as a
> whole will never make it as a software company. (There are pockets
> there that understand software, but the majority of the company
> does not.)
> </rant>
> 
> Sorry,
> 
> Arnold

-- 
---
Larry McVoy            	     lm at mcvoy.com             http://www.mcvoy.com/lm 

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] AT&T Research
@ 2020-07-12 20:38 Norman Wilson
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 19+ messages in thread
From: Norman Wilson @ 2020-07-12 20:38 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs

John Linderman:

  Every "divestiture" had an adverse effect on critical mass. The split
  between AT&T and Bellcore was a big hurt.
  The split between AT&T and Lucent was another. When I joined the Labs in
  1973, it was an honor to work there.

====

Maybe I'm blinded because I wasn't there earlier, but
to me, joining Bell Labs in 1984, just after the original
divestiture that split off Bellcore, was still an honour.
There were certainly good people I never had a chance to
work with because they went to Bellcore, but in 1127 at
least, morale was good, management stayed out of our way
and encouraged researchers to work on whatever interested
them, and a lot of good work was done even if that group
was no longer the source of All UNIX Truth.  (In fact I
think we missed the boat on some things by being too
inwardly-focussed, TCP/IP in particular, but divestiture
didn't cause that.)

It seemed to me that the rot didn't really begin to show
until around 1990, the time I left (though not for that
reason; this is hindsight).  Upper management were
visibly shifting focus from encouraging researchers to
do what they did best to treating researchers as a source
of new products to be marketed.  The urge to break the
company up further seems to me to have been a symptom,
not a cause; the cause was a general corporate shift
toward short-term profits rather than AT&T's traditional
long-term view.  AT&T was far from alone in making this
mistake, and research in the US has suffered greatly all
over as a result.

I remember visiting a couple of years after I left, and
chatting with my former department head.  He said 1127
was having trouble convincing new researchers to join up
because they'd heard (correctly) that the physics and
chemistry research groups were being cut back, and feared
computing science would have its own reckoning soon enough.
In fact the corporate direction of the time was to cut
back on the physical sciences and push to expand software
research and development, but I don't blame the new
researchers for being concerned (nor did my ex-DH), and
in the long term they turned out to be more right than
wrong.

Nothing lasts forever, but the classic Bell Labs lasted
a long time.  We have nothing like it now.  I don't think
we'll have anything like it any time soon.  That's sad.

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 19+ messages in thread

end of thread, back to index

Thread overview: 19+ messages (download: mbox.gz / follow: Atom feed)
-- links below jump to the message on this page --
2020-07-11  1:08 [TUHS] AT&T Research John P. Linderman
2020-07-11  1:32 ` Larry McVoy
2020-07-11  1:51   ` John P. Linderman
2020-07-11 15:36 ` Clem Cole
2020-07-11 20:30   ` Warren Toomey
2020-07-11 20:36     ` Jon Steinhart
2020-07-11 21:58     ` Rob Pike
2020-07-11 22:29       ` Larry McVoy
2020-07-12  7:55         ` Ed Bradford
2020-07-12  2:22     ` [TUHS] BTL pranks [was AT&T Research] Doug McIlroy
2020-07-12 11:58       ` [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker (was: BTL pranks) Michael Kjörling
2020-07-12 13:25         ` Dan Cross
2020-07-12 14:58         ` Robert Clausecker
2020-07-12 16:09           ` [TUHS] Monitoring by loudspeaker Al Kossow
2020-07-12 20:10             ` [TUHS] Fwd: " Rich Morin
2020-07-23  4:13     ` [TUHS] AT&T Research scj
2020-07-23  6:02       ` [TUHS] Technical decisions based on political considerations [was Re: AT&T Research] arnold
2020-07-23 14:42         ` Larry McVoy
2020-07-12 20:38 [TUHS] AT&T Research Norman Wilson

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