[X Newbies] he said, she said.

Florin Alexander Neumann alexn at ica.net
Fri Jul 25 07:02:01 PDT 2003

On Friday, Jul 25, 2003, at 05:58 Canada/Eastern, Vincent Cayenne wrote:

> system which a punning colleague called UNICS (UNiplexed Information 
> and Computing Service)--an 'emasculated Multics'

The history of computing is a fascinating subject, riddled with 
controversy, legend, and mystification. The above is such an instance. 
It is often said that the original name was UNICS, which later morphed 
into UNIX; however, according to Ken Thompson, from the very beginning 
it was called UNIX, as "a weak pun on Multics"; according to Dennis 
Ritchie (credited as a co-author of Unix) "it was not until well into 
1970 that Brian Kernighan suggested the name UNIX, in a somewhat 
treacherous pun on Multics".

Probably Vincent was trying to illustrate the same type of issue by 

>> Torvalds decided to develop an operating system that exceeded the 
>> Minix standards. He called it Linux , a contraction for Linus' >> Minix."
>> [...]
>> I'm doing a (free) operating system [...]
>> PS.  Yes - it's free of any minix code [...]

In fact, there is a whole literature on Minix, Linux, the (sometimes 
acrimonious) Andy Tanenbaum vs Linus Torvalds debate, etc. To say that 
"Linux" is a contraction of "Linus' Minix" means you're already taken 
sides, and it's probably incorrect as well. Judging from posts from the 
early 1990s (available in many places on the 'net), it is highly 
unlikely that Torvalds should have chosen to call his own kernel from 
something he despised and which had a different design concept.

Whether any of this is of any interest to Mac newbies is another matter 


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