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The fascinating story of how Unix began and how it took over the world. Brian Kernighan was a member of the original group of Unix developers, the creator of several fundamental Unix programs, and the co-author of classic books like "The C Programming Language" and "The Unix Programming Environment." The fascinating story of how Unix began and how it took over the world. Brian Kernighan was a member of the original group of Unix developers, the creator of several fundamental Unix programs, and the co-author of classic books like "The C Programming Language" and "The Unix Programming Environment."


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The fascinating story of how Unix began and how it took over the world. Brian Kernighan was a member of the original group of Unix developers, the creator of several fundamental Unix programs, and the co-author of classic books like "The C Programming Language" and "The Unix Programming Environment." The fascinating story of how Unix began and how it took over the world. Brian Kernighan was a member of the original group of Unix developers, the creator of several fundamental Unix programs, and the co-author of classic books like "The C Programming Language" and "The Unix Programming Environment."

30 review for UNIX: A History and a Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Pete

    UNIX: A History and a Memoir (2019) by Brian Kernighan is a history of Unix and Kernighan's recollections about the creation of Unix and the people at Bell labs who created it. The book provides a concise overview of the early years of the operating system that 50 years on is on so many computers all over the world. Kernighan describes how he came to work at Bell labs and how he met Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie there. After the failure of the Multics system Thompson and Ritchie were working on UNIX: A History and a Memoir (2019) by Brian Kernighan is a history of Unix and Kernighan's recollections about the creation of Unix and the people at Bell labs who created it. The book provides a concise overview of the early years of the operating system that 50 years on is on so many computers all over the world. Kernighan describes how he came to work at Bell labs and how he met Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie there. After the failure of the Multics system Thompson and Ritchie were working on file systems and device drivers for discs and got to the point where with three more things, an editor, an assembler and a shell. Remarkably these were written in three weeks while Thompson's wife and child were away. Once Unix was written the plethora of utilities that has grown up around it came into being, mostly written by the staff of Bell labs. Grep, awk, sed, lex, yacc were all written by the remarkably talented staff at Bell Labs. The names mentioned are a roll call of famous computer scientists. It's incredible to see how many people who contributed so much worked at one place. The book has lots of stories about the people who created them. It helps to build a picture of what it would have been like to work there. The C language was also written by Dennis Ritchie and most of Unix was rewritten in C and this contributed to the portability of the system. Kernighan writes about how the language came about and what made it different. Bell Labs also sold Unix and the source code to various universities cheaply and this spread of Unix was very important in the growth of the language. Kernighan also makes the point that Unix was set up to write the many manuals and books for Unix. The editors, source control systems and the layout programs for Unix enabled authors to edit and rewrite their manuals more easily than with previous systems. Kernighan think that this contributed to the quality of these manuals substantially. The longevity of books like Kernighan and Ritchie's classic 'The C Programming Language" suggests that there is something to the idea. The book also goes on to mention the further growth of Unix with the creation of Linux. UNIX: A History and a Memoir is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in the history of computing and the history of the amazing operating system that is Unix. It's a quick read and gives some insight into how a small group of people created such an important software system.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Really nice, very personal account of the creation of UNIX. It will make you think about the 1970s again, in terms of computers. It might also make you open the terminal program on your computer to try some of the things out, and marvel that you actually can. Made me want to read more. First clear 5-star review in a while, for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Scott J Pearson

    Brian Kernighan is most known for writing the definitive work on the C computer language. He worked for most of his career at famous Bell Labs from AT&T and worked among those who developed the UNIX operating system. UNIX powers much of the Internet and served as the basis for computer operating systems like Linux and MacOS. These all have influenced technological history, and he enlightens us as to how. He writes in a light, unpretentious manner and relates the history that he witnessed as excel Brian Kernighan is most known for writing the definitive work on the C computer language. He worked for most of his career at famous Bell Labs from AT&T and worked among those who developed the UNIX operating system. UNIX powers much of the Internet and served as the basis for computer operating systems like Linux and MacOS. These all have influenced technological history, and he enlightens us as to how. He writes in a light, unpretentious manner and relates the history that he witnessed as excellent software poured out of Bell Labs. He writes this history from a personal perspective, which is why this book’s genre accurately fits as both a history and a memoir. This personal perspective enlightens readers about how highly productive innovation occurred in this sphere. He exposits with an obvious respect for his colleagues and for the impact that they had on the history of computing science. Though some fame is certainly deserved for his accomplishments, he approaches them with a degree of humility as befits one looking back on a satisfactory life. This work certainly contains relevance to the programmer and also to those who study innovation in science and technology. Besides these niche audiences, interest should be extended to the general reader, for whom complex technical topics are explained in an elegant simplicity. (Let me be clear: This is written for a general audience, not a technical audience.) Any reader can learn how exactly the computer and its cousin, the Internet, came to the fore of human culture in a generation. In that sense, Kernighan tells a broad story of our civilization’s progress. As a computer programmer and as one with interest in the history of science and technology, I found this history interesting and relevant. It’s nice to get a feeling for the personalities behind some of the software that I use each day. As befits computer programming, there is not a whole lot of drama or tension. Instead, one gets a close feel for the personal warmth and common ingenuity shared by Kernighan and his colleagues. That ostensible enjoyment, that evident respect, and that passionate love come out strongly in this memoir and are perhaps the greatest testimony that produced a work as transformative as UNIX.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Justin Andrusk

    I've read a number of books on the history of UNIX over the years and this one has added more of a personal touch than the others. It was a welcome change as Brian Kernighan was actively involved in the history of UNIX as it was developing at Bell Labs. It was great to hear his perspective on how things unfolded, but I enjoyed more hearing about the 1127 culture and they worked with each other. There is a fair amount of technical material, though not at length and that should be no surprise as i I've read a number of books on the history of UNIX over the years and this one has added more of a personal touch than the others. It was a welcome change as Brian Kernighan was actively involved in the history of UNIX as it was developing at Bell Labs. It was great to hear his perspective on how things unfolded, but I enjoyed more hearing about the 1127 culture and they worked with each other. There is a fair amount of technical material, though not at length and that should be no surprise as it's a memoir and not a technical deep dive. If you understand that the focus is around the culture at Bell Labs and not all of the esoteric knowledge that other works have already done, you'll enjoy the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christer Edwards

    I enjoyed this very much. Full of history about early Unix development at Bell Labs including origin stories of many common tools and designs.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Junye Huang

    A very enjoyable read about UNIX’s history. Bell labs in the 70s and 80s sound like a paradise for computer scientist to work in. It’s a pity that Bell labs and other corporate labs do not allow such freedom of exploration any more. Brian Kernighan is a brilliant writer, at least among technical experts. I like his geeky humors between the lines and the examples he use to illustrate concepts. This book make me want to read more about hackers and early computer history. I am now reading Hackers b A very enjoyable read about UNIX’s history. Bell labs in the 70s and 80s sound like a paradise for computer scientist to work in. It’s a pity that Bell labs and other corporate labs do not allow such freedom of exploration any more. Brian Kernighan is a brilliant writer, at least among technical experts. I like his geeky humors between the lines and the examples he use to illustrate concepts. This book make me want to read more about hackers and early computer history. I am now reading Hackers by Steven Levy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Eduardo Sorribas

    Great read! I really enjoyed Brian Kernighan's writing style. It feels like he's just casually telling us stories from back in the Unix days. There's a lot of interesting stuff here. Of course a lot of historical details, but to me the best parts are all the anecdotes about how different aspects of Unix came to be, and about all the people that worked on them. I think anyone with an interest in computer programming would enjoy this book. Great read! I really enjoyed Brian Kernighan's writing style. It feels like he's just casually telling us stories from back in the Unix days. There's a lot of interesting stuff here. Of course a lot of historical details, but to me the best parts are all the anecdotes about how different aspects of Unix came to be, and about all the people that worked on them. I think anyone with an interest in computer programming would enjoy this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Abdullah

    "If resources are tight, that’s more likely to lead to good, well-thought-out work than if there are no constraints." "At the same time, there was zero, or even negative, enthusiasm for the kinds of team-building exercises that one often sees today. Most of us saw them as artificial, pointless, and a waste of time. "It takes effort to build and maintain an organization whose members like and respect each other, and who enjoy each other’s company. This can’t be created by management fiat, nor by e "If resources are tight, that’s more likely to lead to good, well-thought-out work than if there are no constraints." "At the same time, there was zero, or even negative, enthusiasm for the kinds of team-building exercises that one often sees today. Most of us saw them as artificial, pointless, and a waste of time. "It takes effort to build and maintain an organization whose members like and respect each other, and who enjoy each other’s company. This can’t be created by management fiat, nor by external consultants; it grows organically from the enjoyment of working together, sometimes playing together, and appreciating what others do well."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ramesh Naidu

    My favorite operating system 's history A magical journey through the history of the most beloved and used operating system of all times from one of the pioneers who witnessed it first hand. A must read for every programmer My favorite operating system 's history A magical journey through the history of the most beloved and used operating system of all times from one of the pioneers who witnessed it first hand. A must read for every programmer

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dav

    echo superb,perfect,certain,written,detailed,authoratative | awk '{split($0,w,","); for (i=1; i<4; i++) print w[i] "ly " w[i+3];}' echo superb,perfect,certain,written,detailed,authoratative | awk '{split($0,w,","); for (i=1; i<4; i++) print w[i] "ly " w[i+3];}'

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dulguun

    History of Unix as told by one of its contributors. If you're interested in Unix history, and wants to read about it from a personal point of view, this is for you. Includes biographies of people involved (Thompson and Ritchie were the core but there were many contributions from others), how various Unix tools came to be, culture and life at Bell Labs, and development of Unix over the years. The book also goes over what makes an OS (filesystem, system calls, etc.), C programming language, and auth History of Unix as told by one of its contributors. If you're interested in Unix history, and wants to read about it from a personal point of view, this is for you. Includes biographies of people involved (Thompson and Ritchie were the core but there were many contributions from others), how various Unix tools came to be, culture and life at Bell Labs, and development of Unix over the years. The book also goes over what makes an OS (filesystem, system calls, etc.), C programming language, and author's work at Bell Labs.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sergio

    Well written, easy to follow, full of insight. Some chapters had more detail than I cared for but that's my opinion. This book's title perfectly reflects its content. Well written, easy to follow, full of insight. Some chapters had more detail than I cared for but that's my opinion. This book's title perfectly reflects its content.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Tanviruzzaman

    This is first hand account of the development of the influential operating system UNIX (offshoots of which run on majority of the devices today) and the peak and the dismantling of the wondrous Bell labs where they had 9 Nobel prizes and 4 Turing awards. There were John Bardeen, Claude Shannon, Richard Hamming, John Tukey, Robert Tarjan, Dennis Ritchie, Bjarne Stroustrup, Alfred Aho; in the book we get to meet many of them. Kernighan is sincere and honest. It has many good stories. However, the This is first hand account of the development of the influential operating system UNIX (offshoots of which run on majority of the devices today) and the peak and the dismantling of the wondrous Bell labs where they had 9 Nobel prizes and 4 Turing awards. There were John Bardeen, Claude Shannon, Richard Hamming, John Tukey, Robert Tarjan, Dennis Ritchie, Bjarne Stroustrup, Alfred Aho; in the book we get to meet many of them. Kernighan is sincere and honest. It has many good stories. However, the print quality overall is not great. A few overarching threads I found interesting are: 1. Ken Thompson et al. from Bell labs were directly involved in MIT's ambitious MULTICS project that suffered from the second-system effect. The design of UNIX was greatly influenced by the fresh memory of the mistakes in that project. 2. UNIX started conservative. Perhaps the memory of MULTICS along with the management's very miserly initial reaction to operating systems, kept them alert about KISS philosophy. 3. It was C and UNIX pair that made it so great. C was much higher level than then-prevailing assembly language and thus much more user-friendly, yet efficient enough to be used for systems programming. Once UNIX was written in C, OS became decoupled from hardware; porting the OS now meant much easier task of porting the C compiler. 4. Ken Thompson seems like a pretty cool guy and the most important hero in the UNIX story. Among many of his great works like C's predecessor B, grep, UTF-8, Go, he was the main person behind Belle, the first Chess computer that was Master-level.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A nice little memoir about the development of Unix from a first-hand observer, but it doesn't have as much on that subject as I thought it might; rather it's really a remembrance of what it was like to work at Bell Labs and an analysis of what made it such a great research environment. Giving researchers time to investigate what they're good at and and what interests them without the restrictions of needing to tie it to business needs or have a definitely end-goal really is a great way to come u A nice little memoir about the development of Unix from a first-hand observer, but it doesn't have as much on that subject as I thought it might; rather it's really a remembrance of what it was like to work at Bell Labs and an analysis of what made it such a great research environment. Giving researchers time to investigate what they're good at and and what interests them without the restrictions of needing to tie it to business needs or have a definitely end-goal really is a great way to come up with innovating, world-changing inventions (that also have the capability to be monetized if management is capable, which is not always the case). And new research into AI algorithms has proved this[0]: the best algorithms don't focus on the end-goal, but on a diversity of solutions, exploration of what is "interesting". That's how you get great stuff like Unix, and we can only hope a research institution like Bell Labs will make another appearance someday. [0] https://www.quantamagazine.org/comput...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas sawyer

    A Remarkable Tour of Bell Labs, Unix and Language Development Brian Kernighan packs as much history of computing technology into a single volume as one can in this comprehensive history of Unix. Never excessively technical, always interesting and remarkably anecdotal. As a member of the GE635 (and it's successors) community, I watched the unusual interests of Bell Labs Multicians from afar as they evolved "B" "C" and some peculiar adaptation of a single user operating system. It was a long time b A Remarkable Tour of Bell Labs, Unix and Language Development Brian Kernighan packs as much history of computing technology into a single volume as one can in this comprehensive history of Unix. Never excessively technical, always interesting and remarkably anecdotal. As a member of the GE635 (and it's successors) community, I watched the unusual interests of Bell Labs Multicians from afar as they evolved "B" "C" and some peculiar adaptation of a single user operating system. It was a long time before I had the chance to run a business operation under the final result. This book filled in all the missing pieces crisply with humor and insight beyond expectation. Congratulations to the author for taking the time to explain and entertain. We need a great many more pioneers to do likewise.

  16. 5 out of 5

    lojislav

    I actually finished this last night, but a great summary of Unix history from one of the people closest to its inception. Highly recommended if you’re interested in the history of computing or just Unix in general

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adam Adair

    This book was a fascinating and inspiring tale that I enjoyed immensely. Many of the men and women described in the book were the legends and giants of computer science when I was an undergrad, and I found I had a hard time putting this book down. The only criticism I have of the book is that it glosses over the the UNIX wars and resulting law suites that are still going on today, which I think is also part of the legacy of AT&T Bell Labs and USL. Mr. Kernighan alludes to poor management and bus This book was a fascinating and inspiring tale that I enjoyed immensely. Many of the men and women described in the book were the legends and giants of computer science when I was an undergrad, and I found I had a hard time putting this book down. The only criticism I have of the book is that it glosses over the the UNIX wars and resulting law suites that are still going on today, which I think is also part of the legacy of AT&T Bell Labs and USL. Mr. Kernighan alludes to poor management and business decisions which played a hand, and while I'm sure he didn't want to delve into perhaps the something so negative and sinister, I think he missed a good opportunity to present his opinions on intellectual property rights in computing. The SCO controversies of the 2000s was a huge influential factor in my own career. I had been a large advocate of adopting UNIX and Linux with my own employer. The law suites filed by SCO had a direct impact on technology choices by my employer and I've been working exclusively on Microsoft Windows systems since 2006, and as old UNIX systems age out they are replaced with more Windows servers. I think it is unlikely that unless I change employers that I will ever get to work with Unix in a professional capacity ever again and this makes me kind of sad. As it is the only mention of SCO in the book is in a diagram of the evolution of UNIX and related operating systems. He skipped all that and went straight to Oracle v Google. Still, I loved the book, and I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in UNIX and computing research. I noticed that there is an assumption of basic computer literacy so I can't recommend this to everyone.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stas Makarov

    An engaging story about context, ideas, problems and people around UNIX, Linux and numerous other related technologies. Some amusing peaces: "I was happy. No ambition. I was a workaholic, but for no goal." -- reminded me of Torvald's "Just for fun" --- On constraints: "If resources are tight, that’s more likely to lead to good, well-thought-out work than if there are no constraints. .. The management principles here are that you hire bright people and you introduce them to the environment, and you give An engaging story about context, ideas, problems and people around UNIX, Linux and numerous other related technologies. Some amusing peaces: "I was happy. No ambition. I was a workaholic, but for no goal." -- reminded me of Torvald's "Just for fun" --- On constraints: "If resources are tight, that’s more likely to lead to good, well-thought-out work than if there are no constraints. .. The management principles here are that you hire bright people and you introduce them to the environment, and you give them general directions as to what sort of thing is wanted, and you give them lots of freedom. Doesn’t mean that you always necessarily give them all the money that they want. And then you exercise selective enthusiasm over what they do. And if you mistakenly discourage or fail to respond to something that later on turns out to be good, if it is really a strong idea, it will come back." --- On vi: "I don’t recall what I said at the time about the editor itself (though today vi is one of the two editors that I use most often), but I do remember telling Bill that he should stop fooling around with editors and finish his PhD. Fortunately for him and for many others, he ignored my advice. "

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mahmoud

    For me as a software engineer—and a geek—, learning how Unix prevailed was an absolute joy, specially by someone who was directly involved in Unix's history. This book tells you how Ken Thompson invented the Unix operating system in 1969 on a PDP-7 device, out of the ashes of MULTICS, which was a failed OS attempt by MIT, GE and Bell Labs. Later on when Dennis Ritchie invents the C programming language, they join their efforts and rewrite Unix in C to make it portable. Many talented people in Bell For me as a software engineer—and a geek—, learning how Unix prevailed was an absolute joy, specially by someone who was directly involved in Unix's history. This book tells you how Ken Thompson invented the Unix operating system in 1969 on a PDP-7 device, out of the ashes of MULTICS, which was a failed OS attempt by MIT, GE and Bell Labs. Later on when Dennis Ritchie invents the C programming language, they join their efforts and rewrite Unix in C to make it portable. Many talented people in Bell Labs (including the author himself) create useful tools (e.g., Shell, Yacc, Lex, Make, Sed, Awk) to enrich the Unix environment. I was shocked by the amount of contributions that Ken Thompson has made to the software world: B, Pipes, Grep, Regex, UTF-8, Go, of course Unix itself and many more. Bell Labs seemed to be a factory of ideas and inventions. I believe this was the result of gathering talented people together, giving them a sustainable environment (socially and economically), and letting them do whatever they are interested in. Brevity is one of the things that I liked about this book, because it wraps up Unix's history in about 180 pages, with many photos. This made reading the whole book a pleasure.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    It is fascinating how a system, designed 50 years ago, is still successful without any major architectural change. The Unix principles, that stand in the roots of the design decisions of this OS, are a good explanation for that phenomenon. However, this book confirms one's suspicion of how great the people, who worked then at Bell Labs, were, as in order to design a truly flexible system - one needs to be empathetic, to always keep in mind that they will not be the only ones using it. It is exci It is fascinating how a system, designed 50 years ago, is still successful without any major architectural change. The Unix principles, that stand in the roots of the design decisions of this OS, are a good explanation for that phenomenon. However, this book confirms one's suspicion of how great the people, who worked then at Bell Labs, were, as in order to design a truly flexible system - one needs to be empathetic, to always keep in mind that they will not be the only ones using it. It is exciting and somewhat nostalgic to read stories about true collaboration, creative brainstorming, and friendly pranks. All of that topped up with a history of how and why certain Unix tools (many of which are still in use today) were developed. Must read for everyone who's into Unix-like systems or even simply open source.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    This is a great read for those wanting some "I was there" reporting. Kernighan (if his memory can be trusted) does some excellent reporting and reminiscing. As the title says, this is very much a history and memoir. I found Kernighan's style easy to work with and it helped clarify for me some of the events that lead to the world we exist in today with Linux as the dominate server platform. Interesting tidbits and facts are sprinkled throughout. There are definitely details that I found my eyes gl This is a great read for those wanting some "I was there" reporting. Kernighan (if his memory can be trusted) does some excellent reporting and reminiscing. As the title says, this is very much a history and memoir. I found Kernighan's style easy to work with and it helped clarify for me some of the events that lead to the world we exist in today with Linux as the dominate server platform. Interesting tidbits and facts are sprinkled throughout. There are definitely details that I found my eyes glazing over for, so one's mileage may vary. This is definitely a must read for anyone interested in the history of this important system, but don't expect it to be an exciting one.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Makoa

    It's okay. It should be titled 1127 Bell Labs: A Memoir, because the content is more about Kernighan's experience at Bell Labs than it is about the intricacies of UNIX. It did provide a great overview of the development of UNIX which I did not know before I read the book. It also enlightened me as to who made what contributions on UNIX--this however made me wish I was reading UNIX history book authored by Thompson or Ritchie instead. Ultimately, I would say I've learned more about Bell Labs in th It's okay. It should be titled 1127 Bell Labs: A Memoir, because the content is more about Kernighan's experience at Bell Labs than it is about the intricacies of UNIX. It did provide a great overview of the development of UNIX which I did not know before I read the book. It also enlightened me as to who made what contributions on UNIX--this however made me wish I was reading UNIX history book authored by Thompson or Ritchie instead. Ultimately, I would say I've learned more about Bell Labs in the 80s than I cared to, and I still have a lot of unanswered questions about UNIX's history which is why I gave it 3/5 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rob Warner

    Fascinating tale of the birth and evolution of Unix, which starts from just before my birth and continues to this day. I'm astonished at how many decisions made back then have stood through the present day. I work on Unix-based operating systems (Linux and macOS) nearly daily. The tools Kernighan discusses, I use all the time. I'm glad that the 1127 folks made the decisions they did! I was amused, though, to read about the "make" decision to use significant whitespace, and how early they wanted Fascinating tale of the birth and evolution of Unix, which starts from just before my birth and continues to this day. I'm astonished at how many decisions made back then have stood through the present day. I work on Unix-based operating systems (Linux and macOS) nearly daily. The tools Kernighan discusses, I use all the time. I'm glad that the 1127 folks made the decisions they did! I was amused, though, to read about the "make" decision to use significant whitespace, and how early they wanted to change that, but couldn't because by then a dozen people were already using "make." The curse of backwards compatibility!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gohar Irfan

    Goes over some of the most monumental creations in modern computing (Unix, C, a whole set of everyday use tools like awk, grep, bash), the environment that led to those and the phenomenal people driving it all. Very exciting to get a glimpse of how a leading industrial lab of the time operated and the culture they had for promoting truly creative and revolutionary ideas. The book gets a bit too specific in some parts with particular people and timelines which are not extremely interesting or of Goes over some of the most monumental creations in modern computing (Unix, C, a whole set of everyday use tools like awk, grep, bash), the environment that led to those and the phenomenal people driving it all. Very exciting to get a glimpse of how a leading industrial lab of the time operated and the culture they had for promoting truly creative and revolutionary ideas. The book gets a bit too specific in some parts with particular people and timelines which are not extremely interesting or of particular interest to me at least; but in large part, it's a gripping journey through the birth of an operating system that is powering the world today.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Khashayar Danesh

    For me, this book represents all the sentimental values of efforts put into a project that turned out to change the computation and therefore the way things are operated in many different levels. The work done in Bell labs, has basically made the 21st century as we know it possible. While reading about such significant work, many aspects are lost, this book not only tries to provide an overview of the technical fields of discussion and challenges, does not leave the people who did the work out. For me, this book represents all the sentimental values of efforts put into a project that turned out to change the computation and therefore the way things are operated in many different levels. The work done in Bell labs, has basically made the 21st century as we know it possible. While reading about such significant work, many aspects are lost, this book not only tries to provide an overview of the technical fields of discussion and challenges, does not leave the people who did the work out. After all, people are the ones who do the things and products are just results, reading this book gave me a better set of insights on what happened in Bell Labs and how.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Max Darling

    I first became enchanted by programming mythology last year with Steven Levy’s Hackers, particularly the first arc about the founding hackers at MIT in the 50s-60s. The story goes that a bunch of super-nerds from the model train club one day discovered some new university computers and - pow! - were so enthralled they dropped their textbooks and devoted nearly every waking hour to programming. They would write programs on punchards during the day and pounce on the vacant computers after dark, co I first became enchanted by programming mythology last year with Steven Levy’s Hackers, particularly the first arc about the founding hackers at MIT in the 50s-60s. The story goes that a bunch of super-nerds from the model train club one day discovered some new university computers and - pow! - were so enthralled they dropped their textbooks and devoted nearly every waking hour to programming. They would write programs on punchards during the day and pounce on the vacant computers after dark, conjuring all through the night. They quickly became experts and contributed prodigiously to a wide range of fields, from Lisp and AI research under John McCarthy, to arguably the first great operating system (ITS), to new frontiers in Conway’s “Game of Life” (the glider gun). As their influence spread, so too did their gospel, and before long the “hacker ethic” was established. But unheard over the commotion of buzzy teletypes and prehistoric leetspeak was a tremor, emanating some 200 miles down the Atlantic Coast…the sign of a new computing revolution so great in magnitude that it threatened to dwarf even its most impressive forebearer. Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and the rest of Center 1127 at Bell Labs were about embark on a uniquely harmonious and productive 2 decades of computer science research. The result? Unix, C, and a host of other indispensable tools and ideas that laid a foundation for modern computing and remain relevant to this day - a transcontinental railroad of bytes so vast even the founding hackers couldn’t help but revere. If you share this reverence, you will enjoy Kernighan’s fond retellings of the programming pantheon at Bell Labs.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Vlad Bezden

    Great book, great history about Bell Labs, AT&T, Unix, Linux, C, C++ Shell, UTF-8, and other inventions of that time. The book also describes the culture, philosophy, hiring process, working experience, the relationship of Bell Labs of that time. This book very special for me, since I always was fascinated with Unix OS, C, but I did not know the history behind it. I end up reading this book twice.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Gadsden

    I have really enjoyed this book, to me this book reminds me of Surely you're Joking Mr Feynman. It is filled with a cast of characters that have shaped computer science and software engineering in the 60s to late 80s. Brian explains the remarkable things a clever group of people were able to work on during their tenure at Bell labs. I will forever love hearing about the atmosphere in a place such as Bell labs and I will forever be grateful for Brian sharing his history. I have really enjoyed this book, to me this book reminds me of Surely you're Joking Mr Feynman. It is filled with a cast of characters that have shaped computer science and software engineering in the 60s to late 80s. Brian explains the remarkable things a clever group of people were able to work on during their tenure at Bell labs. I will forever love hearing about the atmosphere in a place such as Bell labs and I will forever be grateful for Brian sharing his history.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Łukasz Słonina

    Simply wonderful. You would not only read about Unix history, you would feel how is was created, how those people were working in Bell Labs. No technicalities here, understandable for everybody. Unix was created 50 years back, but I'm supprised how actually the environment supported that. All current best software development practices were already there. Great managent, freedom to pick work, open environment to discuss. Great book. Simply wonderful. You would not only read about Unix history, you would feel how is was created, how those people were working in Bell Labs. No technicalities here, understandable for everybody. Unix was created 50 years back, but I'm supprised how actually the environment supported that. All current best software development practices were already there. Great managent, freedom to pick work, open environment to discuss. Great book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    JM

    Very enjoyable book for any UNIX and Linux enthusiast. It is not much technical, but it has some explanations when a read from outside IT want to understand the whole picture. Like the title suggests, this is part history and memoir. It really feels how an old school legend who was there when it all happened would tell you over a coffee. It has a lot of images and pieces of code to support the narrative and many facts helped me connect the dots in how Linux, FreeBSD and MacOs came to be.

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