Retrocomputing – Multics


For the past few months, I’ve been using the dps8m fork of  SIMH to create and run Multics, one of the first operating systems I ever used, and one of my favorites. I’ve also built a completely automated process to install Multics in “the cloud”, so that others can play with this piece of Internet history. I’ll show how that works in some future posts.

Around 1973 I encountered my first computer,  GCOS (AKA GECOS), thanks to Honeywell and Explorer Post 414 in Phoenix. After “we” “discovered” some quite a few security problems with GCOS Timesharing, Honeywell management and our Boy Scout leaders decided to move us all to Multics, as it was a much more secure platform.

Multics has an interesting place in computer science history. It wasn’t the first timesharing (interactive) system, it wasn’t the first to have virtual memory, it wasn’t the first to be primarily written in a higher level language, and it wasn’t the first to be designed and developed with security as a primary goal. It wasn’t open source, although every system did ship with complete source code, something that was not true of any other operating systems of the era.

But it was the first operating system where all these things (and many more) came together.

It is a proven fact that without Multics, there would have been no UNIX, and therefore no MINIX and no Linux.

A lot has been written about Multics, by the people that created and ran it. For background about Multics see:

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