Boston Linux & UNIX was originally founded in 1994 as part of The Boston Computer Society. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Building E51.

The History of UNIX: How We Got Where We Are

Date and Time

Wednesday, September 19, 2001 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm


MIT Building 4-370


Clem Cole


A discussion of the beginnings of open-source culture


Clem reviews the long and fascinating history behind UNIX, and shows how many facets of today's Open-Source/Free-Software community have a set of rich traditions behind them.

While UNIX was developed at Bell Laboratories, its spread through the academic world was a result of an open source ethic which both accelerated the rate of adoption and the rate of development of the UNIX system and other fundamental changes in the design of computer systems and software. The UNIX culture of sharing code and the commercialization of UNIX in the 1980's provided the environment for Linux to appear in the 1990's.


Clem Cole has been a leader in the computing industry with over 25 years of systems development experience ranging from small (4 bit) microprocessors to mainframes. He was a early player in the move to distributed computing and was heavly involved in developing the industry's first commercial multi-processor system, the first real-time UNIX system, as well as the first UNIX-based workstation. He has published numerous papers and is a frequent speaker at technical conferences. Most recently, he chaired the program for the Freenix 2001 Conference in Boston. He holds the usual degrees from the usual institutions. {PP} Like Tom, Clem is also a lapsed old school hacker and ``Open Sourcerer.'' He too first encountered the Fifth and Sixth Editions of UNIX while a student, writing a variety of device drivers, kernel enhancements, writing microprocessor support tools for the early 4 and 8 bit microprocessors, even working on an early hardware description language (ISPS) using VAX serial #1. Post his undergraduate work, he joined Tektronix's Computer Research Group and helped develop one the earliest TCP/IP implementations and along with developing an OS (Magix) for an engineering workstation (Magnolia). {PP} He then went back to school, and upon completing his graduate work, he joined Masscomp – where he met up with Tom. Clem was one of their early OS developers and led the original data communications group. Following that, Clem was the original OS lead for Stellar Computer, afterwards he became an independent consultant. One of his more lasting legacies was to be part of the ``jump start team'' at OSF. He went on to become the Chief SW Engineer for the Boston office of Locus were he helped to architect and develop their distributed cluster technology: TNC. With the sale of Locus, Clem became a Sr Consulting Engineer at Digital, working on Alpha-based technology. A number of years post the ``Compaq-tion'', he took his current position as VP of Engineering for Paceline Systems.

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