From: Rob Pike <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Jon Steinhart <email@example.com>
Cc: TUHS main list <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Eugene Miya <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: [TUHS] A New History of Modern Computing - my thoughts
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2021 08:07:57 +1100 [thread overview]
Message-ID: <CAKzdPgwC1yzXWw8E2YvRY4+OnpitD5ijNX9HsBQYLCuhrY3MPA@mail.gmail.com> (raw)
Is there a symbiosis between C and the PDP-11 instruction set? The
machine was vital to C and Unix's success, but primarily due to the
availability of a department-sized machine. Was the instruction set a
significant component? Most Unix programmers wrote little to no
assembly, although perhaps more read what came out of the compiler.
But did it matter? Auto-increment and -decrement are often cited in
this story, but they are not that important, really, and were around
well before the PDP-11 made its appearance.
I'm curious to hear arguments on either side.
On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 7:29 AM Jon Steinhart <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> 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.
next prev parent reply other threads:[~2021-11-28 21:10 UTC|newest]
Thread overview: 29+ messages / expand[flat|nested] mbox.gz Atom feed top
2021-11-28 20:26 Jon Steinhart
2021-11-28 21:07 ` Rob Pike [this message]
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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