"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What If Unix

Via O'Reilly Radar, the original UNIX Time-Sharing System paper.

For most users, communication with the system is carried on with the aid of a program called the shell. The shell is a command-line interpreter: it reads lines typed by the user and interprets them as requests to execute other programs.
Something I've wondered fruitlessly about in the past: what if the first shell language had been a simle lisp interpreter, along the lines of elisp. I mean, shell programming is obscure and arguably limited, yet thousands upon thousands of people have written thousands upon thousands of lines of shell scripts.

If one of the developers had been at MIT before Bell Labs and had taken a simple interpreter along, then people would have grown up around Unix thinking Lisp was easy and useful. Those many thousands of people would just think Lisp is they way to do scripting and not give it a second thought.

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About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.