Tracking down old sources (was Re: [rescue] Interesting bit on Multics)
fdion at atriumwindows.com
Mon Oct 20 08:24:17 CDT 2003
There is another possibility: Nobody knows about Multics anymore at Bull
and/or they have no idea where the source is, even!
I worked for Videotron/Videoway in Montreal, QC some years ago. We had
settop boxes running our own OS since forever, in a lot of households.
The last revision of the boxes made at Videoway back in the mid 90s had
games, mail, interactive TV and the like. Not a bad little OS (I believe
there are still quite a few of these boxes around in Quebec). The box
lacked enough RAM for applications IMHO, but it did have a cable modem
in it (that was more than 10 years ago). Lots of programs and
development tools (a mix of Windows NT and OS/2 mostly - ah the
annoyance of writing device drivers under non Unix systems), emulators,
editors etc were made. I also worked on another project that didn't get
to production, UBI (for the proto/market tests, it was a merge of a
beefed up videoway and a GTE Mainstreet box). Again lots of cool stuff
like tools to encode audio into video frames, openGL 3d worlds generated
in realtime on the server and sent as frames and stuff like that.
With digital TV and settop boxes from other vendors now, and most people
leaving Videoway as it was merging with the corporate office (no more
lavish R&D budgets). I'm pretty sure that there are maybe 2 people left
at Videotron that know where this stuff is at. I doubt the Sun server on
which the source resided has been upgraded or is still under support. I
wouldn't be surprised it's been powered off in a closet somewhere. Who
knows where the tape backups are, or if anyone knows the format they are
If someone was to ask anybody in the administrative layer at Videotron,
they would get 100% failure rate. You'd have to track down the right
person, assuming someone was still there that knew this stuff...
I suspect the endeavor to find the Multics sources at Bull might be even
Lionel Peterson wrote:
>I choose to understand it this way:
>"For fear of giving away (literally or figuratively) something that
>prove to have value down the line, they would rather sit on their
>assetts than risk a mistake."
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