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Operating Systems Unix Technology

40 Years of Multics, 1969-2009 138

gribll writes "October 2009 marked an important milestone in the history of computing. It was exactly 40 years since the first Multics computer system was used at MIT. The interview is with Multics co-developer, MIT Professor and Turing Award winner Fernando J. Corbato. Multics (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service) is regarded as the foundation of modern time-sharing systems. Multics was the catalyst for the development of Unix and has been used as a model of operating system design since its release four decades ago. There is also a picture gallery of Multics history."
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40 Years of Multics, 1969-2009

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  • by alecto ( 42429 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:20PM (#30064196) Homepage

    "In hindsight we might have picked a simpler language than PL/I, . . ." Now there's an understatement!

    • Yeah, you're not kidding. PL/1 was one of the first languages I learned back in the early 80's and I'm ever so glad that I never had to put that knowledge to any real use other than academics. Though I did find my old box of programming manuals from back then and right on top was my PL/1 and APL manuals from IBM. I wonder if those are worth anything these days...
  • obKanye (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fortunato_NC ( 736786 ) <verlinh75@m[ ]com ['sn.' in gap]> on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:27PM (#30064308) Homepage Journal

    Hey Multics, I'm really happy for ya, and imma let you finish, but UNIX is the best multiuser operating system of ALL TIME. OF. ALL. TIME.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      Huh? youa noa speaka noa sensea!.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 ( 562437 )

      I don't get it. Kanye is probably the single lamest meme since the beginning of the Internet. And it's a even more lame media "scandal" that "nipplegate". By an order of a magnitude, at least.

      Badger badger looks like deep Chinese philosophy, written in the words of Shakespeare, in comparison.

      Can we get back to "In Soviet Russia, car is analogy of YOU" jokes, please? :)

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by Hurricane78 ( 562437 )

        Redundant?? I was the first and only one complaining about that at the time of submission.

        Retarded moderators again?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 )

      Bah. Unix is just Multics with the balls cut off.

    • Stupid Comment (Score:4, Interesting)

      by omb ( 759389 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @08:06PM (#30067690)
      Corbato designed and taught the Architecture that underpinned the UNIX developers and Martin Richards (of Cambridge UK) later, in 1970, brought BCPL, evolving into B, C, ... (_but_ definitely not C++)

      Professor Corbato got so many things right on the GE645 that he, Gordon Bell, Maurice Wilks and Tom Kilburn were the generation of _REAL_ uber-architects in the 60/70 s; with Gene Ahmdahl and Fred Brooks doing the engineering heavy lifting, Chris Streachy and and the MIT school (Marvin Minsky and many others) did the philosophy.

      Without their contributions the Computer Industry would never have started
      • The guys you mention certainly deserve respect, however I hate to break it to you but there was already a healthy computer industry and it would have continued growing with or without those guys. For just one example from the period there is DEC minicomputers, which were cheap and small compared to the mainframes of the day, had a huge effect on increasing the spread of computers and introducing their use to laboratories. And IBM had TSO for timesharing. IBM also introduced APL, the first interactive langua
        • by omb ( 759389 )
          You don't need to break anything, you are just displaying your manifest ignorance, complete manifest ignorance.

          The GE645 design is contemporaneous with IBM's 7094, which ran CTSS at MIT before Multics replaced it. Gene Ahmdahl was working for IBM and designed the 360-architecture, Fred Brooks lead the OS 360 team and wrote the Mythical Man Month about his experiences. Ken and Tom Olsen, at DEC, thought that Custom Digital electronics was the way to go and DEC was the FLIP Chip company, and computers were "S
          • Nothing you've said in any way refutes what I said nor does it support the claim that I was responding to - that there would be no computer industry without the guys you mention.

            Your statements don't even make sense - DEC's products were general purpose computers, some of which were engineered in such as way as to be especially useful in a lab setting, but nonetheless general purpose computers. Yet you claim the guy who founded the company in the 50's and ran it for decades thought computers were "snake o

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:30PM (#30064360)

    I had to use it at a large energy company in Europe in the 1980s. It was actually a fantastic system.

    Unlike VMS and IBM's mainframe OSes, it was actually pretty friendly to use. This attribute has clearly rubbed off on UNIX. While we'd spend months teaching some users how to use VMS, they'd get Multics within a few days.

    The programming environment was also fantastic. It didn't support as many languages as VMS, nor did it have language interoperability that was as good, but it still supported more languages than you'd fine on typical UNIX systems of that era.

    That said, it still was a beast compared to UNIX. UNIX was sly and sleek, and thus supported lower-end hardware better than Multics could. And UNIX was more portable, which eventually made it more widely available.

    Still, I look upon my Multics days with a fondness I didn't find again until the early 2000s, when I was able to get a position administering a network of FreeBSD servers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My recollection from the early 80s is that it had fantastic language interoperability, especially compared to other systems at the time.

      On Multics you could pass variables from one language to another using full declarators allowing each language to inspect the value and type and more of each incoming variable, and act accordingly, and most of the Multics languages supported that in the compiler.

      So PL/I could call into FORTRAN and on and on.

      It's been a long time, I could easily be wrong about this, but that

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think you're thinking of VMS.

        Depending on the languages being interfaced, MULTICS requires the marshaling to be done manually. It wasn't complex code, by any means, but a set of wrapper routines and data translation routines were needed.

        Some implementations didn't require that, however. When I used MUTLICS, we wrote our code in a mix of ALM, PL/1, COBOL and FORTRAN. The COBOL and FORTRAN compilers were from the same vendor, and supported immediate interoperability. The PL/1 compiler was from a different v

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      VMS isn't "friendly to use"? Really? I guess maybe it isn't if English isn't your first language, but what could be more friendly than DCL?
      If I need help, I type "help". If I need to copy a file, the command is "copy". If I want to rename a file, guess what the command is? You guessed it - "rename"

      Plus, the uptime is tremendous, which is a VERY friendly attribute.
      • Perhaps you meant MVS? MVS is downright hostile!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by raftpeople ( 844215 )
        I was wondering the same thing. UNIX more friendly than VMS? Huh? UNIX has some positive things going for it, but of all of the command line operating systems I've used, it's actually towards the bottom of user friendly-ness.
      • by spitzak ( 4019 )

        The ability to "copy" a file without having to worry about it's type put Unix way ahead. And real hierarchial directories with a sensible syntax without different rules for the levels! (something that Microsoft refuses to learn after decades...)

        I was very impressed, having come from using VMS for about 2 years before I started on Unix (I was at Dec and they had a small VAX running BSD because they wanted to port a CLU compiler from it to VMS). This was 1982.

        The commands were cryptically short, so I certainl

        • TECO is fine, and VIM is almost as good if you know, and enable Perl.

          but remember, "BLISS is IGNORANCE" all those '.' s, Duh! PDP-10 Algol was written in BLISS by Wolf from CMU,
          and reading it made the head hurt.

          A final thought, why can not manufacturers write working assemblers, and more linkers for their platform,
          all the industry stuff, except the PDP-10 assembler (aka MASM in modern terms) and all manufacturer linkers
          have been crap!

          BTW the reason C was a mess is that Ken Olsen's brother wanted it so; an
      • by putaro ( 235078 )

        The Damned Command Language? I remember when they added that to RSTS/E. I hated it. Overly verbose but you could abbreviate it by just typing the first few characters of the command so it wound up being completely cryptic in practice.

    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @08:18PM (#30067804)
      Hmm, I always considered VMS to be more user friendly, at least to novices, than Unix. Unix was full of cryptic shorthand commands. Ie, "help" vs "man -k", "search" vs "grep", "edit" vs "vi" or "ed" or "ex", etc. DCL was very quick to pick up compared to Unix sh, even though sh had more power.

      Essentially I think VMS had a shallow learning curve where Unix was pretty steep, but the shallow curve meant it took you longer to learn how to do really powerful things. The result was that it was faster to become a functional user with VMS, but you got to be a power user more quickly with Unix.
      • by syousef ( 465911 )

        You talk about VMS in past tense, but I use it every day. Along with Windows, and Unix. I code in C and in Java (J2EE, Spring). Eclipse works well for writing both because its syntax highlighting and call hierarchy features cope well with extensions they don't know about (Pro*C, and VMS libraries).

        Not all the old systems are dead.

    • Multics was so fantastic that I was able to crash the whole system by declaring an array called "ARRAY" in Fortran, (reboot required) and numerous other "obvious" blunders. (I am talking about 1972-4). A multi-user system that crashes because of accidental misuse of reserved words is not "user-friendly". I wrote my data capture programs in Basic, and heavy maths (wave equations) in Fortran - Multics certainly had inter-language support in the early 1970's - 20 years before the VAX and VMS.

      You are cxomparin

      • You are cxomparing Multics (1970 hardware and software)

        OK (started in the late 1960's, but mostly 70's)...

        with Unix (1980 hardware and software)

        Well, I guess the flurry of "1) pick a microprocessor 2) build/buy a UNIX port 3) ??? 4) Profit!" machines was mainly in the 1980's, kicked off by AT&T's binary licensing of V7, but UNIX dates back to the 1970's as well, on the originated-in-the-1970's PDP-11.

        and VMS (1990 hardware and software)

        Erm, try "VMS (late 1970's hardware and software)" - the VAX, and VMS, came out in the late '70's.

    • That said, it still was a beast compared to UNIX. UNIX was sly and sleek, and thus supported lower-end hardware better than Multics could. And UNIX was more portable, which eventually made it more widely available.

      That's an understatement. In the early 70's I was running Unix on a PDP-11/34 with 28K of ram and a 5MB hard disk, eventually using it to run an Evans & Sutherland PS1.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:31PM (#30064364)

    . . . Thompson and Richie decided to start a less ambitious project, called Unix?

    • by timster ( 32400 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:35PM (#30064470)

      Yeah, that "was the catalyst" line is great. You can come up with all sorts of equivalent expressions. Like "MS-DOS was the catalyst for Linux", or "horse manure was the catalyst for the automobile"

      • by gv250 ( 897841 )

        "horse manure was the catalyst for the automobile"

        Just because it couldn't be more off-topic, The Horse & the Urban Environment [] describes this relationship quite well.

      • "MS-DOS was the catalyst for Linux"

        Come on, MS-DOS was the best operating system MicroSoft ever produced!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ogdenk ( 712300 )

          It was a shameless CP/M knock-off produced by some hole-in-the-wall called Seattle Computer Products. MS bought it for $50,000 and proceeded to destroy the brilliant company known as Digital Research who developed the real thing (CP/M, later DR-DOS). DR also had a better GUI environment than early versions of Windows called GEM. I remember GEM fondly on my Atari ST. Ran it on a 286 for a while too.

        • Come on, MS-DOS was the best operating system MicroSoft never produced!

          Mini-meme alert: There fixed that for you. QDOS []

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      That and they like what Multics offered but didn't have the hardware to support it.
      Of course the Current version of Linux or BSD is probably more "bloated" then the last version of Multics.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes: the Multics kernel was 250 K (I'm not sure if that's thousand words or thousand bytes, but keep in mind that this was the era of 36-bit words and 9-bit bytes) in 1983. has all the classic legends and misconceptions here:

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          That is 250K SLOC. SLOC stands for Significant lines of code. Heck I have seen applications that rival that. Multics was small and looks pretty light. To bad it was impossible to have written it in c instead of PL/1. Had it been in c it might still be around and useful.
          Multics predates c BTW so it couldn't have been written in c. It could have been ported maybe but by then we had Unix.

        • by spitzak ( 4019 )

          Actually there were not really any "bytes" at all, as in addressable units smaller than the 36-bit word.

          Various software would store ASCII in the words in different ways, using 6x6, 7x5, or 4x9 bits for them.

      • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @05:23PM (#30065822)

        Of course the Current version of Linux or BSD is probably more "bloated" then the last version of Multics.

        Sure, trade in a 40 year old operating system for two 20s, just because its a little bloated after giving you the best years of its life... Does this tty driver make my kernel look fat?

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Hey whats wrong with getting a trophy OS. You know an OS can never be too thin or too new :)

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:42PM (#30064558) Journal
      Bloat isn't really the right word. Multics had a lot more features than UNIX, and some really nice ideas (like the fact that files and memory used the same interface), but it required very high-end hardware for the time. It was a mainframe OS. It would not run on a minicomputer and so UNIX was written to port a game from Multics to the spare minicomputer that Thompson and Richie had access to. It turned out that UNIX, while inferior, was good enough for a lot of things, but saying Multics is bloated compared to UNIX is like saying Linux is bloated compared to MS DOS 3.
      • by Abreu ( 173023 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @05:07PM (#30065640)

        It turned out that UNIX, while inferior, was good enough for a lot of things...

        It's amazing the number of times in computing where something, while inferior, was good enough for a lot of things and ended up dominating...

        • It's amazing the number of times in computing where something, while inferior, was good enough for a lot of things and ended up dominating...

          It's a demonstrable effect in most industries really. McDonald's is a perfect example. "Good enough" seems to be the sweet spot for garnering mass appeal.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lennier ( 44736 )

          "It's amazing the number of times in computing where something, while inferior, was good enough for a lot of things and ended up dominating..."

          And it's also amazing the number of times that "inferior but good enough" product, after dominating the low-end field due to its small and lightweight design, then has to scale up by painfully and clumsily reintroducing all the "bloated" features of the higher quality and better-designed product. And then of course, makes the better product extinct not on its own mer

          • by chthon ( 580889 )

            A little late for replying, but anyway...

            You can even go further back in time : the concept of channels for IO processing separate from the CPU is still no standard in the x86 world. The fact that IO speed is still a bottleneck is still not recognised. Instead faster processors are pushed, but never matched with better IO.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darinbob ( 1142669 )
        Linux and BSD are positively bloated compared to the first Unix systems. It first ran on a computer with only 64K after all. Unix wouldn't have survived if it had stuck to the first few versions, it would be far too limiting. What made it succeed, as opposed to its contemporaries, was that it was relatively portable and could migrate to better computers when they came along, and it was relatively open (for the time) so that others could grow and adapt it.
        • It would run in less than 64KB. I had it running on a 28KW (16 bit) machine. It is also worth pointing out that at the same time DEC had an operating system for Real-Time computing and one for timesharing - both running in 28KW on PDP-11's and there was TOPS-10 running on the PDP-10 with 256K.
    • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:52PM (#30064682)

      It's true that Multics couldn't get out of its own way on a system with 64K of RAM, although it was technically supposed to run on that configuration. To work well, it really wanted several hundred K of RAM. Thank heavens we left it in the dustbin of history, replaced by the crisp, clean efficiency of Windows, or OS X, or Linux.

  • Unix (Eunuchs) [] is the castrated version of Multics.
    • by iroll ( 717924 )

      Pretty sure it's a play on a different word:
      Multics: multiple
      Unix: one (latin: unus)

  • by omar.sahal ( 687649 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:38PM (#30064494) Homepage Journal
    Multics was very influential, it provided Ken Thompson an example of what not to do. In other words, stick closely to the KISS (Keep It Simple) principle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      Not really. Most of the features of Multics were eventually added to UNIX derivatives, but because they were added piecemeal by various different vendors over the years, they lack the coherence that they had on Multics.
      • Firstly I have never used Multics, so I can not directly comment on its superiority (or lack thereof) over Unix. However according to a interview for Unix: An Oral History []

        Various accounts I’ve read of UNIX, Ritchie’s retrospective on it, and even an interview you did with some people for a video back in 1981 talk about the system as being, or UNIX as being, sort of culling all the best ideas in operating systems that emerged during the ‘60’s.

        Ken answered

        My background for obtaining

    • KISS (Keep It Simple)

      You'd think "Keep It Simple" would be abbreviated "KIS" ;)

  • Security in hardware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:46PM (#30064594)

    When I worked at the Pentagon (HQAF DSC) one of the machines I developed on was a Multics machine. The really interesting part of the architecture to me was that it had, if I recall correctly, seven permission rings from ring 6 to ring 0 and each were implemented in hardware. The OS ran on a separate processor cluster for each ring, and system level work (kernel mode) was done all in ring 0.

    I enjoyed learning PL1, and found it to be an easy transition to go to Unix/C. The multics box was a beast, and stuff ran like greased lightning.

  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:47PM (#30064620) Homepage Journal

    October 2009 marked an important milestone in the history of computing

    and they waited until november to tell you!

    • I hope that, at the very least, someone sent MULTICS a very nice "I'm sorry I forgot your birthday" card. Something cute, perhaps with sad puppies.

      OTOH, MULTICS is 40. I know I wanted everyone to forget my 40th birthday.

      • It would be cool if somebody could get one running somewhere and hook it up to an internet connected box. Maybe you could ssh into a BSD box then cu into the MULTICS box and get a feel for how it works.

  • by zooblethorpe ( 686757 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @03:54PM (#30064716)

    So I've got to ask, does this have any synchronic significance with the recent 40-year anniversary of Sesame Street [] recently splashed around Google's main page?

    Hmm... "This episode brought to you by the letters P, L, and I, and the number pi!" :)


  • The moon landing, the Internet, Multics, and lots of other things.

    • Boeing 747, "In the Court of the Crimson King", "Led Zeppelin I", "Ummagumma", "Deep Purple", the Woodstock Festival, Monty Python's Flying Circus, last public performance of the Beatles, Sesame Street... Any others?

  • If it was so good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SnarfQuest ( 469614 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @04:01PM (#30064830)

    If it was so good, then why aren't there any emulators for it? Nearly every other old system has emulators, but not Multics.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cruff ( 171569 )

      A few people are trying to get emulators going, the biggest problem is the lack of documentation of the peripheral hardware interfaces used on Multics capable systems. Check out the archives of the alt.os.multics news group.

      • by Gilmoure ( 18428 )

        Just don't look at any binary posts by 'uncle_buck'.

      • Re:If it was so good (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mike.mondy ( 524326 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @05:15PM (#30065736)

        There are a few defunct projects on sourceforge and, I think, one live effort. I'm writing an emulator, but I haven't released any code yet.

        CPUs are trivial. Systems can be hard.

        Writing an emulator probably wasn't feasible before the sources were released two years ago. A few people started prior to that, but I can't imagine how.

        Multics ran on somewhat complex hardware. In addition to the CPU, there were several other complex components including the system controllers, I/O multiplexors, and front end processors. Some of these were programmable or semi-programmable devices and much of the documentation is missing.

        Now that we have compiler listings, assembly listings, a few documents, and a boot tape, the task seems feasible. Digging through the machine code on the boot tape and in the assembly listings partially makes up for the lack of decent documentation on some of the components.

        My emulator is far from complete -- and it's almost 18K lines of code. It does read the boot tape and run about 2 million instructions, but crashes before finishing the boot process. The emulator doesn't yet know about disks or support instruction restart etc. There's a lot of work left to do.

        I plan on cleaning up a few things and releasing it real soon now.

    • Re:If it was so good (Score:4, Informative)

      by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @05:14PM (#30065716)
      Well, for one theres little need and for another there is little interest. The source code for Multics wasn't released till 1992, by then it was clear that UNIX was the future, development basically stopped for Multics long before then and Linux was beginning its rise as an open source UNIX system. With no legacy software to drive a tricky system to emulate why do it? I mean, with game consoles there are the games, with PC things usually there are a few nifty pieces of software, with Multics just about everything was ported to UNIX.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Were there any games for it?

  • Good thing they didn't call it Unics or it would've been the butt of jokes for decades.

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @04:06PM (#30064884)
    The implementation we used (SWURCC, England. 1978 - ?) had a "cookie monster" program. Briefly, this was a process that wandered randomly around the logged in users, occasionally taking control of their VDU and sending the message "I wanna cookie" It would only give you your screen back once the user typed "cookie". Swearing at it got you disconnected.

    I have a feeling that this "feature" got removed very soon after it snarfed the Computer Unit Director's screen.

    • by thvv ( 92519 )

      Chris Tavares wrote the original Cookie Monster program in 1970. Story is at -- sounds like you used a descendant of the original. Source is available online. The program did not wander randomly: you had to start it while logged in, and it would then sleep and pop up messages later. People used to prank their co-workers when they found a terminal unattended.

    • I remember seeing that in the documentary [].

  • I remember reading that Multics was going to be the OS used to provide computing-as-utility; everyone was just going to be able to use it. Did this plan ever pan out (was Tymnet and Telenet Multics-based?) Who, then, were the Multics customers and what, if anything, spawned from it (other than Unix and VisiCalc, as mentioned in TFA)?

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 )
    Later in his career Ken Thompson [] had corrective eye surgery, changed his name to Kim Thayil [] and was the lead guitarist of Soundgarden...What an amazing talent.
    • by Jerrry ( 43027 )
      Damn, and all this time I though Thompson and Ritchie retired from Bell Labs and formed ZZ Top [].
  • Can you (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SnarfQuest ( 469614 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @04:20PM (#30065062)

    Can you really rate it as 40 years, since the last operational site was shut down in 2000? Shouldn't the timer stop when it dies, like with people? Do you give Columbus's age as over 500 years?

    • Must have been a sad life, after you asked your parents why they didn't celebrate your birthday, and they answered: "We will celebrate, when you're dead!" :P

  • by delphi125 ( 544730 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @04:46PM (#30065420)

    As Roger Needham [] quipped, Multics was design for the real-time processes of geological processes.

  • by nani popoki ( 594111 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @04:57PM (#30065522) Homepage
    in the 1970s. I programmed in PL/1. While the language was complex (being a synthesis of the most difficult-to-implement features from FORTRAN, COBOL and Algol), it certainly was a fine development environment *on Multics*.

    I still miss the clean user interface (all command-line arguments meant the same thing, no matter which command was being executed) and fine documentation. But the GE645 / Honeywell 6800 architecture was never well-enough documented to make emulation feasible. And the descendants of Multics have implemented most of the features more-or-less. The world has moved on.

    I've moved on, too. In 1978 I taught myself C; I've since learned and continue to program in C++, Java and Python, having discarded along the way Lisp, Pascal and Delphi.

    And I use Windows mostly now. But my memory tells me that Multics was often faster for routine things like searching the file system. (Though the filesystem back then was only a few hundred MB.) And the processor back then was good for about 1 MIPS. Forget about color graphics. Animation? That was for cartoonists.

    Anyway, this old-timer got a chuckle out of the article; thanks for posting the heads-up.

    • by abigor ( 540274 )

      People like you really need to post here more often.

    • My first CS course in my freshman year (1977) was "Structured Programming in PL/I. The only thing I really remember was that the following was legal:

      • by ZosX ( 517789 )

        I thought about it for a while, and then I finally gave up after developing a headache. How could that possibly be legal unless you could just throw variable names in wherever a variable would be.....

        IF X = Y THEN Y = Z; ELSE Z = X;?

        it would eventually loop....

  • Don't forget the segmentation that was introduced with the 286's protected mode was influenced by Multics as well.
  • I'm surprised to see the lack of comp.risks here in the comments. Multics was a phenomenally well designed OS from a security perspective. So much so that NSA recruiters at college took an interest in you if you had Multics experience...
  • In some ways, Unix is very like Multics. In some other ways, Unix is the complete Antithesis of Multics. Unix copied some of what was good, left out most of what was bad, and left some of the really cool features to be forgotten. In other words, Multics made Unix the shape it is.. and that of course influenced everything down through Linux, Mach, the iPhone, Android etc etc.

    Like many other posters, I too was a Multician at university. It rocked. But I prefer my nice GUI and not having to share my processo

  • cool story, bro. full of WIN!!! but /. needs to be moar facebookable these days. images don't show up anymore when posting linkages... :-(((

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury