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* [TUHS] A New History of Modern Computing - my thoughts
@ 2021-11-28 20:26 Jon Steinhart
  2021-11-28 21:07 ` Rob Pike
  2021-11-29 15:37 ` Phil Budne
  0 siblings, 2 replies; 29+ messages in thread
From: Jon Steinhart @ 2021-11-28 20:26 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: TUHS main list; +Cc: Eugene Miya

Eugene Miya visited by last week and accidentally left his copy of the
book here so I decided to read it before he came back to pick it up.

My overall impression is that while it contained a lot of information,
it wasn't presented in a manner that I found interesting.  I don't know
the intended target audience, but it's not me.

A good part of it is that my interest is in the evolution of technology.
I think that a more accurate title for the book would be "A New History
of the Business of Modern Computing".  The book was thorough in covering
the number of each type of machine sold and how much money was made, but
that's only of passing interest to me.  Were it me I would have just
summarized all that in a table and used the space to tell some engaging

There were a number of things that I felt the book glossed over or missed

One is that I didn't think that they gave sufficient credit to the symbiosis
between C and the PDP-11 instruction set and the degree to which the PDP-11
was enormously influential.

Another is that I felt that the book didn't give computer graphics adequate
treatment.  I realize that it was primarily in the workstation market segment
which was not as large as some of the other segments, but in my opinion the
development of the technology was hugely important as it eventually became
commodified and highly profitable.

Probably due to my personal involvement I felt that the book missed some
important steps along the path toward open source.  In particular, it used
the IPO of Red Hat as the seminal moment while not even mentioning the role
of Cygnus.  My opinion is that Cygnus was a huge icebreaker in the adoption
of open source by the business world, and that the Red Hat IPO was just the

I also didn't feel that there was any message or takeaways for readers.  I
didn't get any "based on all this I should go and do that" sort of feeling.

If the purpose of the book was to present a dry history then it pretty much
did it's job.  Obviously the authors had to pick and choose what to write
about and I would have made some different choices.  But, not my book.


^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 29+ messages in thread
* Re: [TUHS] A New History of Modern Computing - my thoughts
@ 2021-11-28 23:12 Noel Chiappa
  2021-11-28 23:35 ` Adam Thornton
  0 siblings, 1 reply; 29+ messages in thread
From: Noel Chiappa @ 2021-11-28 23:12 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs; +Cc: jnc

    > The ++ operator appears to have been.

One would expect that most people on this list would have read "The
Development of the C Language", by Dennis Ritchie, which makes perfectly clear
(at 'More History') that the PDP-11 had nothing to do with it:

  Thompson went a step further by inventing the ++ and -- operators, which
  increment or decrement; their prefix or postfix position determines whether
  the alteration occurs before or after noting the value of the operand. They
  were not in the earliest versions of B, but appeared along the way. People
  often guess that they were created to use the auto-increment and
  auto-decrement address modes provided by the DEC PDP-11 on which C and Unix
  first became popular. This is historically impossible, since there was no
  PDP-11 when B was developed.

thereby alleviating the need for Ken to chime in (although they do allow a
very efficient implementation of it).

Too much to hope for, I guess.


^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 29+ messages in thread

end of thread, other threads:[~2021-12-01 12:31 UTC | newest]

Thread overview: 29+ messages (download: mbox.gz / follow: Atom feed)
-- links below jump to the message on this page --
2021-11-28 20:26 [TUHS] A New History of Modern Computing - my thoughts Jon Steinhart
2021-11-28 21:07 ` Rob Pike
2021-11-28 21:15   ` Jon Steinhart
2021-11-28 21:31     ` Ken Thompson
2021-11-28 21:47       ` Jon Steinhart
2021-11-28 22:17         ` Rob Pike
2021-11-29  0:19           ` Clem Cole
2021-11-29  1:12             ` Larry McVoy
2021-11-29  2:23               ` Bakul Shah
2021-11-30 19:27                 ` Ralph Corderoy
2021-12-01  8:46                   ` Rich Morin
2021-12-01 12:28                     ` Al Kossow
2021-11-30  3:18               ` Larry McVoy
2021-11-29  1:18             ` George Michaelson
2021-11-29  1:36             ` Bakul Shah
2021-11-29  1:47       ` Bakul Shah
2021-11-29  7:46         ` arnold
2021-11-29  7:52           ` arnold
2021-11-29 14:44             ` Larry McVoy
2021-11-29 12:11         ` Michael Kjörling
2021-11-28 21:23   ` Thomas Paulsen
2021-11-28 21:39     ` Steve Nickolas
2021-11-28 22:41       ` Ron Natalie
2021-11-28 21:40   ` Larry McVoy
2021-11-29 15:37 ` Phil Budne
2021-11-28 23:12 Noel Chiappa
2021-11-28 23:35 ` Adam Thornton
2021-11-29  1:53   ` John Cowan
2021-11-29 13:48   ` Dan Halbert

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