13 November, 2009

40 years of Multics

Multics, the ancestral system that coined the computer-term 'time-sharing' and heavily influenced the development of today's computer systems. The catalyst for Unix and later similar POSIX-like systems.

Multics was never really widely used, like Unix, and thus never got the public recognition like Unix and Linux did, mainly because it was a hardcore research/educational system (much like Plan9 from Bell Labs) and the fact that the Internet was not yet conceived (to spread the code, like Linux-communities does today).

Multics was developed in the 60s by computer science professors at M.I.T.

It was the first --OFFICIAL-- system to incorporate the concepts of time-sharing (of which the ITS was the pioneer) and high-level programming. It's main programming language --PL/I, "Programming Language One"-- was intended for non-assembly-savvy developers, and was as such, the first high-level programming language ever used(!).

In accordance with other university-policies in later years, the Multics-project released Multics codebase as open-source in November of 2007. This spurred the creation of the online "Multicians" project (link at bottom of post), who's members where eager Multics users that wanted to elaborate and collaborate on their favourite system online (much like Linux has since 1992-3).


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