Tag Archives: Bell Labs

Building DIR/ECT II

In 1975, when I was 37, I got my first and only job at Bell Labs which was not research. Bell Labs had written, a long time before, an elaborate software system, named DIR/ECT, used in printing white pages phone … Continue reading

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My Second Computer

In 1971 the first personal computer, the Kenbak-1, became available. Only 40 were sold. The real personal computer revolution started, I think, with the availability of the Altair computer kit in 1975 and the Apple 1 in 1976. Also, in … Continue reading

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Lessons in Management 1

Looking back over my career in graduate school and at Bell Labs, I am surprised to realize that even though I set out to be a software designer, most of my jobs involved teaching people or leading teams. In the … Continue reading

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Why were early computers so late?

When I was born, in 1938, there were no computers. The word “computer” meant a person who used a calculator. I don’t know why computers did not exist then. The seeds had been planted well before. The first general-purpose computer … Continue reading

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Machines I Have Known

The first machine I ever programmed was a UNIVAC 1, in 1957, as an undergraduate at Harvard. Although I did not know it at the time, Sperry-Rand Corporation had  given this machine to Harvard the previous year. Apparently not even … Continue reading

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Inventing a Database Server

A colleague of mine at Bell Labs, A. (Tax) Metaxides, was chair of the CODASYL task group on database management. He had been trying to interest people in the idea of using a specialized computer to do database management as … Continue reading

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Building UNIX

UNIX was born from the ashes of the MULTICS project at Bell Labs. Although many people involved in MULTICS contributed to UNIX, it really was the creation of one brilliant software designer: Ken Thompson. As discussed in my previous blog post, Bell … Continue reading

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How UNIX Came to Be

MULTICS suffered from second system syndrome. That’s a good thing, because the failure of MULTICS inspired us to create UNIX. As I’ve discussed in a previous post, when I assembled a team to build a time-sharing system the project was criticized … Continue reading

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How C Came to Be

One of the most important things to come from Bell Labs computer science research was the C language. Here is how it happened. In my previous post I tell how I came to join the computer science research department at … Continue reading

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How I Beat and Joined MULTICS

I have found that the best way for me to advance my software career is not to try to advance it, not to make plans for the future, but just to find work that I really enjoy doing and do … Continue reading

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