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A Quarter Century of UNIX [Paperback]

Peter H. Salus
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 10, 1994 0201547775 978-0201547771 1
On June 12, 1972, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie wrote, "the number of UNIX installations has grown to 10, with more expected." Two years later the number was 50. It is estimated that there are over 3 million UNIX systems in operation today ...UNIX is a software system that is simple, elegant, portable, and powerful. It grew in popularity without the benefit of a large marketing organization. Programmers kept using it; big companies kept fighting it. After a decade, it was clear that the users had won. A Quarter Century of UNIX is the first book to explain this incredible success, using the words of its creators, developers, and users to illustrate how the sociology of a technical group can overwhelm the intent of multi-billion-dollar corporations. In preparing to write this book, Peter Salus interviewed over 100 of these key figures and gathered relevant information from Australia to Austria. This is the book that turns UNIX folklore into UNIX history.The book provides the first documented history of the development of the UNIX operating system, includes interviews with over 100 key figures in the UNIX community, contains classic photos and illustrations, and explains why UNIX succeeded. 0201547775B04062001

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

On June 12, 1972, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie wrote, "the number of UNIX installations has grown to 10, with more expected." Two years later the number was 50. It is estimated that there are over 3 million UNIX systems in operation today ...

UNIX is a software system that is simple, elegant, portable, and powerful. It grew in popularity without the benefit of a large marketing organization. Programmers kept using it; big companies kept fighting it. After a decade, it was clear that the users had won. A Quarter Century of UNIX is the first book to explain this incredible success, using the words of its creators, developers, and users to illustrate how the sociology of a technical group can overwhelm the intent of multi-billion-dollar corporations. In preparing to write this book, Peter Salus interviewed over 100 of these key figures and gathered relevant information from Australia to Austria. This is the book that turns UNIX folklore into UNIX history.

The book provides the first documented history of the development of the UNIX operating system, includes interviews with over 100 key figures in the UNIX community, contains classic photos and illustrations, and explains why UNIX succeeded.



0201547775B04062001

About the Author

About Peter H. Salus

Peter H. Salus is an internationally recognized UNIX enthusiast and author of A Quarter Century of UNIX, also published by Addison-Wesley. He is the managing editor of the quarterly journal, Computer Systems. He is the author of a number of books, articles and reviews. Salus has an undergraduate degree in chemistry, a master's in Germanic languages, and a doctorate in linguistics from New York University.



0201547775AB04062001


Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (June 10, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201547775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201547771
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(14)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By kievite
Format:Paperback
This is an expensive short book with mainly trivial chronological information, 90% of which are freely available on the Internet. As for the history of the first 25 year of Unix it is both incomplete and superficial. Salus is reasonably good as a facts collector (although for a person with his level of access to the Unix pioneers he looks extremely lazy and he essentially missed an opportunity to write a real history, setting for a glossy superficial chronology instead). He probably just felt the market need for such a book and decided to fill the niche.
In my humble opinion Salus lucks real understanding of the technical and social dynamics of Unix development, understanding that can be found, say, in chapter "Twenty Years of Berkeley Unix from AT&T-Owned to Freely Redistributable" in the book "Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution (O'Reilly, 1999)" (available online). The extended version of this chapter will be published in the second edition of "The Design and Implementation of the 4.4BSD Operating System (Unix and Open Systems Series)" which I highly recommend (I read a preprint at Usenix.)
In any case Kirk McKusick is a real insider, not a former Usenix bureaucrat like Salus. Salus was definitely close to the center of the events; but it is unclear to what extent he understood the events he was close to.
Unix history is a very interesting example how interests of military (DAPRA) shape modern technical projects (not always to the detriment of technical quality, quite opposite in case of Unix) and how DAPRA investment in Unix created completely unforeseen side effect: BSD Unix that later became the first free/open Unix ever (Net2 tape and then Free/Open/NetBSD distributions).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overview of the Unix World October 25, 2003
By FePe
Format:Paperback
In 1969 the Unix operating system was born. The main developers were Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, two programmers at Bell Telephone Labs. Unix was born because of the cancellation of another operating system developed at BTL, Multics. Learning from the experience they gained from Multics, Thompson and Ritchie began working on Unix, which would later prove to be a good choice. At first they used the PDP-7 machine, assembler language, and the programming language B (by Dennis Ritchie). Only later did BTL upgrade to PDP-11. Because of the upgrade and because of the development of the C programming language, Unix could mature.
The book has six parts: Genesis, Birth of a System, What makes UNIX Unix?, Unix Spreads and Blossoms, The Unix Industry, and The Currents of Change. In the first part, Peter Salus introduces us to Thompson and Ritchie; there's also a chapter on computers in general. Part two, Birth of a System, tells the story about how Unix came to be with what today is seen as much outdated hardware. Later parts give information on the many companies and groups involved in the Unix history, most notably the development of the BSD systems.
Peter Salus has been involved in the Unix history himself, and therefore he writes about it with sympathetic understanding. That means that we don't get introduced properly to the persons. And it means that the pages are full of acronyms. The writing is very compact and full of quotes from interviews, magazines, books and other sources, and that makes the book difficult to read. The book also has some minor errors.
But if you can live with these flaws, "A Quarter Century of Unix" is a good read. It gives an overview of the Unix world, and shows that Linux is just a small part of the whole operating system landscape, and that there are alternatives.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The coolest book on Unix History January 6, 2001
Format:Paperback
By far the coolest book on Unix!!
The little stories on Unix are amazing.
e.g. Bill Joy's start of BSD distribution or Steve Johnson's lex and yacc development. This book is full of zany characters that we just know names of. This book gives a picture of their personality. The best of the lot are of
Ken T, Dennis R, Robert Morris, Bill Joy, McKusick, and the rest of the looney unix toons. These guys are awesome. A must read for any Unix Lover.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you needed to know about Unix! April 8, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is an excellent overview of the history of Unix. It will help you to understand how Unix came to be, and how it came to be split up into so many different versions. A must for every Unix nerd.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pricey but well worth it May 16, 2006
Format:Paperback
This book is the first one I read about the history on Unix and I really appreciate the author's for the taking the time trying to preserve the history about Unix before it is lost. The book starts with a very early mention of computers, from 1870s and then ends with around the year 1994. Of course keep in mind that this is a Unix history and not Linux. And because it is published in 1994 do not expect it to tell you the history of Unix of the past decade. The book, however, cover the Unix history from 1969 till 1994 extensively.

The one thing that I did not like about the book - and it is very minor - was that the quoted text should have been italicized. Sometimes during the reading I would get confused as to whether the author is talking or he is quoting someone else. Other than that minor inconvenience the book is worth to look at.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relive the amazing anecdotes of these trailblazers! October 13, 2011
Format:Paperback
This is one of my favorite books! I was saddened to hear yesterday that Dennis Ritchie (father of C, co-creator Unix) has passed away. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to relive some of the amazing anecdotes of these trailblazers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I WANT TO SEE THE TABLE CONTENTS OF AMAZON BOOKS!!!
Published 5 months ago by José Monserrat Neto
2.0 out of 5 stars A Quarter Century of UNIX
Written for UNIX insiders and nerds. Too bad! A book on the history of UNIX development, readable by the unwashed, is badly needed.
Published 11 months ago by Wiley R. McKinzie
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Haphazard History
I had higher expectations from this book. I thought it would be a well-organized or chronological history, but it's more just a bunch of interviews with people who he could... Read more
Published on November 15, 2012 by nambolour
3.0 out of 5 stars More of a collection of anecdotes than a history
This isn't really a big-picture history of Unix, it's more a collection of excerpts of interviews with a bunch of people, arranged in roughly chronological order. Read more
Published on November 18, 2009 by Michael Funk
4.0 out of 5 stars The birth of UNIX from an insider
A lively and impeccably well informed history of the birth of UNIX. It's not perfect, but it's still the best source around.
Published on September 23, 2002 by peraldus
1.0 out of 5 stars don't loose your money
The really expensive little book lacks coherence and it is difficult to follow due to the full of citations and data piled up and left as row material page after page.
Published on January 20, 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but pricey
This is a very good, very carefully researched, and a must-read for anyone who ever even wondered about the history of Unix. Read more
Published on June 27, 1999 by Sean Burke
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