Google Groups no longer supports new Usenet posts or subscriptions. Historical content remains viewable.
Dismiss

A primeval C compiler

2,525 views
Skip to first unread message

Dennis Ritchie

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes
written
in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers (including source) to show
what
the very early stages of the language were like. This was a highly
transitional stage; for example, the earlier one anticipates a "long"
type, but doesn't have struct; the 6-months-later compiler implements
struct, but reuses long's slot in the type table.

http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/~dmr/primevalC.html

Dennis

Richard Heathfield

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article
<379FE9...@bell-labs.com>...

DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C, which
is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
newsgroup.

If you want us to comment on your source code, please post it in the body
of your email.

What was your C question?

--
Richard Heathfield

The bug stops here.

nasaldemon: "Richard, they won't get it. They won't understand. You're
gonna be shot down in flames for this one, big-time."

Richard: "I know. It's one of those do-it-and-damn-the-consequences days."


Alexander Bartolich

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
> DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C, which
> is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
> newsgroup.

Wow.

Dennis Ritchie posts something.
And all he gets is a standard move-your-ass-to-the-right-group-reply.

> If you want us to comment on your source code, please post it in the body
> of your email.
>
> What was your C question?

hahahhahahahah.

Alexander Viro

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
In article <37A00F64...@spam-cscw1.ifs.uni-linz.ac.at>,

Alexander Bartolich <al...@spam-cscw1.ifs.uni-linz.ac.at> wrote:
>> DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C, which
>> is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
>> newsgroup.
>
>Wow.
>
>Dennis Ritchie posts something.
>And all he gets is a standard move-your-ass-to-the-right-group-reply.

YHBT. What I really wonder is whether these birds will be able to work
under v5 (tweaking into the state when v5 cc will take them, then feeding
the original variant to the result)...

--
"You're one of those condescending Unix computer users!"
"Here's a nickel, kid. Get yourself a better computer" - Dilbert.

John Birch

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
On 29 Jul 1999 09:28:45 +0100, "Richard Heathfield"
<comp...@eton.powernet.co.uk> wrote:

>Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article
><379FE9...@bell-labs.com>...
>> I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes
>> written
>> in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers (including source) to show
>> what
>> the very early stages of the language were like. This was a highly
>> transitional stage; for example, the earlier one anticipates a "long"
>> type, but doesn't have struct; the 6-months-later compiler implements
>> struct, but reuses long's slot in the type table.
>>
>> http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/~dmr/primevalC.html

>> Dennis

>DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C, which


>is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
>newsgroup.

>If you want us to comment on your source code, please post it in the body
>of your email.

>What was your C question?

>Richard Heathfield

>The bug stops here.

>nasaldemon: "Richard, they won't get it. They won't understand. You're
>gonna be shot down in flames for this one, big-time."

>Richard: "I know. It's one of those do-it-and-damn-the-consequences days."

I guess this might have been an attempt at humour. <pttt..bahh> you
lose ;-)

Were you around when K&R happened, or still playing trains? This was a
cheap shot at a computing great IMHO. The whole point about a standard
is the decision process that makes it a standard - in this respect the
early origins of the C language _are_ of relevance to the current
incarnation. What could be more relevant to comp.lang.c than a posting
by one of the languages creators about the process of designing it?

Richard Heathfield

The humour stops here.

analdemon: "Richard, they don't get it. They don't understand. You're


gonna be shot down in flames for this one, big-time."

except hopefully we're too mature for that. :-)


regards John B.


Mark Brader

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
> And all he gets is a standard move-your-ass-to-the-right-group-reply.

Er, well, it *was* a joke, wasn't it? I mean, did you see the signature?
--
Mark Brader Twas unix and the C++
Toronto Did compile and load upon the vax:
msbr...@interlog.com All Ritchie was the Kernighan,
And Lisp ran in GNU EMACS.
--Larry Colen (after Lewis Carroll)

My text in this article is in the public domain.

Pertti Kotipalo

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
Wow, the bait of the millenium! Congratulations, Mr Heathfield!
Haven't seen better for ages.
(Sorry, if someone feels this is out of the topic, just couldn't help
it)
-Pertti Kotipalo

Richard Heathfield wrote:
>
> Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article
> <379FE9...@bell-labs.com>...
> > I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes
> > written
> > in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers (including source) to show
> > what
> > the very early stages of the language were like. This was a highly
> > transitional stage; for example, the earlier one anticipates a "long"
> > type, but doesn't have struct; the 6-months-later compiler implements
> > struct, but reuses long's slot in the type table.
> >
> > http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/~dmr/primevalC.html
> >
> > Dennis
> >
>
> DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C, which
> is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
> newsgroup.
>
> If you want us to comment on your source code, please post it in the body
> of your email.
>
> What was your C question?
>

> --

Douglas W. Jones,201H MLH,3193350740,3193382879

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
From article <37a01776...@news.demon.co.uk>, by jo...@invision.co.uk (John Birch):

>>Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article
>><379FE9...@bell-labs.com>...
>>> I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes

>>> written in 1972-73, ...

> Were you around when K&R happened, or still playing trains?

The time period 1972-1973 puts this right around the time I first heard of
C. Sadly, I didn't go to Ritchie's talk. I was too busy hacking a shell
(we didn't call it that) for the DDP 516 in room 2D 518 at Murray Hill, so
all I heard was my boss's comments on the talk. He said it was really
interesting. He told me about this neat language called C, a modified
BCPL, that some people upstairs were working on (upstairs was where the
UNIX group worked), and the thing that seems to have impressed him the
most was the idea of adding explicit macros to a high level language.

I only looked briefly at the code Ritchie posted, so I didn't notice if
the macro preprocessor was part of the language yet, or just something that
was presented as an idea at the talk. This would have been in the summer
of 1973, by the way.

Doug Jones
jo...@cs.uiowa.edu

Lawrence Kirby

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
In article <37A00F64...@spam-cscw1.ifs.uni-linz.ac.at>
al...@spam-cscw1.ifs.uni-linz.ac.at "Alexander Bartolich" writes:

>> DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C, which
>> is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
>> newsgroup.
>

>Wow.
>
>Dennis Ritchie posts something.

>And all he gets is a standard move-your-ass-to-the-right-group-reply.

You apparently failed to read the whole of Richard's reply.

>> If you want us to comment on your source code, please post it in the body
>> of your email.
>>
>> What was your C question?
>

>hahahhahahahah.

Sometimes plastering :-)'s everywhere just spoils the effect.

--
-----------------------------------------
Lawrence Kirby | fr...@genesis.demon.co.uk
Wilts, England | 7073...@compuserve.com
-----------------------------------------


Volker Hetzer

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
Richard Heathfield wrote:
[snip]
You should copyright that one. The whole letter is worth to become a .sig.

Greetings!
Volker

Paul Lutus

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
<< This was a cheap shot at a computing great IMHO. >>

Some may not have seen the clear humorous intent, or may have wondered if it
was all that clear, but I'll bet Dennis Ritchie wasn't among them.

--

Paul Lutus
www.arachnoid.com


John Birch <jo...@invision.co.uk> wrote in message
news:37a01776...@news.demon.co.uk...


> On 29 Jul 1999 09:28:45 +0100, "Richard Heathfield"
> <comp...@eton.powernet.co.uk> wrote:
>

> >Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article
> ><379FE9...@bell-labs.com>...
> >> I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes
> >> written

> >> in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers (including source) to show
> >> what
> >> the very early stages of the language were like. This was a highly
> >> transitional stage; for example, the earlier one anticipates a "long"
> >> type, but doesn't have struct; the 6-months-later compiler implements
> >> struct, but reuses long's slot in the type table.
> >>
> >> http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/~dmr/primevalC.html
>
> >> Dennis
>

> >DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C,
which
> >is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
> >newsgroup.
>

> >If you want us to comment on your source code, please post it in the body
> >of your email.
>
> >What was your C question?
>

> >Richard Heathfield
>
> >The bug stops here.
>
> >nasaldemon: "Richard, they won't get it. They won't understand. You're
> >gonna be shot down in flames for this one, big-time."
>
> >Richard: "I know. It's one of those do-it-and-damn-the-consequences
days."
>

> I guess this might have been an attempt at humour. <pttt..bahh> you
> lose ;-)
>
> Were you around when K&R happened, or still playing trains? This was a
> cheap shot at a computing great IMHO. The whole point about a standard
> is the decision process that makes it a standard - in this respect the
> early origins of the C language _are_ of relevance to the current
> incarnation. What could be more relevant to comp.lang.c than a posting
> by one of the languages creators about the process of designing it?
>
> Richard Heathfield
>
> The humour stops here.
>

> analdemon: "Richard, they don't get it. They don't understand. You're


> gonna be shot down in flames for this one, big-time."
>

Tim Shoppa

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
Richard Heathfield wrote:
>
> Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article
>> ...

> nasaldemon: "Richard, they won't get it. They won't understand. You're
> gonna be shot down in flames for this one, big-time."
>
> Richard: "I know. It's one of those do-it-and-damn-the-consequences days."

I'm trying to think how I might've done better. Maybe criticizing
the code style and quoting some passages from K&R to him? Telling
him to go read K&R and come back when he understands the basics?

From the simple fact that several folks *didn't* get the implied
:-), I think you've been entirely successful, though!

Tim.

Rob Nicholson

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
> What was your C question?

If this is *the* Dennis Ritchie then this is *the* most funniest thing I've
seen in ages :-)

Rob.

Martin Ambuhl

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to

Richard Heathfield wrote:

I am posting the reply at the top in violation of usenet norms simply
because I don't know where to break in and EOM seems a long way for
people to page down. Dennis Ritchie posted a nice announcement of
additions to the C museum, to which Richard Heathfield posted a Paul
Lutus-like reply.

Richard, there are people who who will not recognize the tongue-in-cheek
nature of your posting. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true.
You simply have to decorate these things with smileys. It is not that
people are necessarily humor-impaired, although that is possible. There
are plenty of newer people who simply don'y know who either Dennis
Ritchie or Richard Heathfield are. To them, instead of humor, they see
a post from a real pain in the butt.


>
> Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article

> <379FE9...@bell-labs.com>...
> > I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes
> > written
> > in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers (including source) to show
> > what
> > the very early stages of the language were like. This was a highly
> > transitional stage; for example, the earlier one anticipates a "long"
> > type, but doesn't have struct; the 6-months-later compiler implements
> > struct, but reuses long's slot in the type table.
> >
> > http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/~dmr/primevalC.html
> >
> > Dennis
> >
>
> DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C, which
> is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
> newsgroup.
>
> If you want us to comment on your source code, please post it in the body
> of your email.
>

> What was your C question?


--
Martin Ambuhl mam...@earthlink.net

__________________________________________________________
Fight spam now!
Get your free anti-spam service: http://www.brightmail.com


Peter Seebach

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
In article <w10o3.60083$AU3.1...@news2.giganews.com>,

Paul Lutus <paul...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>Some may not have seen the clear humorous intent, or may have wondered if it
>was all that clear, but I'll bet Dennis Ritchie wasn't among them.

I think this was a beautiful experiment. While I agree that dmr's post
was clearly topical, I think most of the flames the Richard got for his
effort were misdirected.

There's nothing wrong with flaming Dennis Ritchie, if he gets confused and
posts in the wrong group.

The argument against the "flame" Richard posted shouldn't be "how dare you
flame dmr". It should be "the evolution of the language is important to
understanding the standard and how it got here".

Even dmr can post off-topic, even in a C newsgroup. He didn't this time, but
the knee-jerk defenses are sort of silly. (For that matter, isn't it fairly
obvious that, if it came down to it, he could defend himself plenty well?)

-s
--
Copyright 1999, All rights reserved. Peter Seebach / se...@plethora.net
C/Unix wizard, Pro-commerce radical, Spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Will work for interesting hardware. http://www.plethora.net/~seebs/
Visit my new ISP <URL:http://www.plethora.net/> --- More Net, Less Spam!

Kaz Kylheku

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
On Thu, 29 Jul 1999 10:18:18 -0700, Paul Lutus <nos...@nosite.com> wrote:
><< This was a cheap shot at a computing great IMHO. >>
>
>Some may not have seen the clear humorous intent, or may have wondered if it
>was all that clear, but I'll bet Dennis Ritchie wasn't among them.

Yeah, but do you think he actually *reads* this newsgroup? I suspect that he
just dropped off the notification. The only way he will read it is if some day
later he by chance a Deja News search on his name.

The reply was clearly intended for us, not for Mr. Ritchie. :)

Kaz Kylheku

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
On Thu, 29 Jul 1999 06:43:22 +0100, Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote:
>I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes
>written
>in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers (including source) to show
>what
>the very early stages of the language were like. This was a highly
>transitional stage; for example, the earlier one anticipates a "long"
>type, but doesn't have struct; the 6-months-later compiler implements
>struct, but reuses long's slot in the type table.

Wow, Bell Labs embraces Open Source. :) :)

I have to comment that IS a heck of a lot better than SCO's move, whose
lawyers came up with the brilliant idea---in response to a net petition
initiative to open up the source to V7 UNIX---to not only impose a hundred
dollar licensing fee upon people who want a copy of the source code, but to
also restrict licensees to sharing modifications only with other licensees.
Last I heard, anyway. Shockingly incredible.

Paul Lutus

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
<< The reply was clearly intended for us, not for Mr. Ritchie. :) >>

I agree. He undoubtedly has better things to do than note the reactions to
his occasional post.

--

Paul Lutus
www.arachnoid.com


Kaz Kylheku <k...@ashi.FootPrints.net> wrote in message
news:slrn7q1bm...@ashi.FootPrints.net...

Richard Heathfield

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
Kaz Kylheku <k...@ashi.FootPrints.net> wrote in article
<slrn7q1bm...@ashi.FootPrints.net>...

> On Thu, 29 Jul 1999 10:18:18 -0700, Paul Lutus <nos...@nosite.com> wrote:
> ><< This was a cheap shot at a computing great IMHO. >>
> >
> >Some may not have seen the clear humorous intent, or may have wondered
if it
> >was all that clear, but I'll bet Dennis Ritchie wasn't among them.
>
> Yeah, but do you think he actually *reads* this newsgroup? I suspect that
he
> just dropped off the notification. The only way he will read it is if
some day
> later he by chance a Deja News search on his name.
>
> The reply was clearly intended for us, not for Mr. Ritchie. :)
>

Indeed.

I have a new sig block. I am rather foolishly proud of it, for a reason
which I'll leave you to guess. (It shouldn't be too difficult.)


--
Richard Heathfield

"Usenet is a strange place." - Dennis M Ritchie, 29 July 1999.


Paul Lutus

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
<< Dennis Ritchie posted a nice announcement of additions to the C museum,
to which Richard Heathfield posted a Paul Lutus-like reply. >>

Oh, no -- a "Paul Lutus-like reply?" I'm clearly in pretty deep doo-doo when
a type of reply gets named after me. Hopefully it means a tongue-in-cheek
mock-hostile reply, rather than the obvious alternative. :)

--

Paul Lutus
www.arachnoid.com


Martin Ambuhl <mam...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:37A0A54E...@earthlink.net...


>
>
> Richard Heathfield wrote:
>
> I am posting the reply at the top in violation of usenet norms simply
> because I don't know where to break in and EOM seems a long way for
> people to page down. Dennis Ritchie posted a nice announcement of
> additions to the C museum, to which Richard Heathfield posted a Paul
> Lutus-like reply.
>
> Richard, there are people who who will not recognize the tongue-in-cheek
> nature of your posting. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true.
> You simply have to decorate these things with smileys. It is not that
> people are necessarily humor-impaired, although that is possible. There
> are plenty of newer people who simply don'y know who either Dennis
> Ritchie or Richard Heathfield are. To them, instead of humor, they see
> a post from a real pain in the butt.
>
>
> >
> > Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article
> > <379FE9...@bell-labs.com>...

> > > I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes
> > > written
> > > in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers (including source) to show
> > > what
> > > the very early stages of the language were like. This was a highly
> > > transitional stage; for example, the earlier one anticipates a "long"
> > > type, but doesn't have struct; the 6-months-later compiler implements
> > > struct, but reuses long's slot in the type table.
> > >

Richard Stamp

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
Kaz Kylheku wrote...

>Yeah, but do you think he actually *reads* this newsgroup? I suspect that
he
>just dropped off the notification.

If "this newsgroup" is comp.std.c, he has certainly appeared to read it in
the past.

Part of the issue here is that the whole thread has been crossposted. I
thought that Richard's article was very funny and not really open to
misinterpretation -- in comp.lang.c. In the other groups the situation may
have been less clear.

It's a shame that we have pretty much ignored the original subject of this
thread. I haven't yet had time to look beyond the introductory notes on the
web page, but I'm interested in the evolution of programming languages and
I'm looking forward to delving deeper. If DMR *is* reading, I'd like to
thank him for taking the time to make this -- and his other historical
materials -- available to us all.


Douglas A. Gwyn

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
"Douglas W. Jones,201H MLH,3193350740,3193382879" wrote:
> I only looked briefly at the code Ritchie posted, so I didn't notice if
> the macro preprocessor was part of the language yet, ...

Through Sixth Edition UNIX, the C preprocessor was a separate program
(written by Reiser). At some point the "cc" compiler driver was
written, and it looked at the first character of the source file to
see whether it was '#'. If so, the source file was passed through cpp
before it reached c0 (compiler proper, first pass). That explains why
so many UNIX C source files had "#" for their first line.

Francis Glassborow

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to
In article <7nqhvc$kmq$1...@soap.pipex.net>, Richard Stamp
<richar...@acm.org> writes

>It's a shame that we have pretty much ignored the original subject of this
>thread. I haven't yet had time to look beyond the introductory notes on the
>web page, but I'm interested in the evolution of programming languages and
>I'm looking forward to delving deeper. If DMR *is* reading, I'd like to
>thank him for taking the time to make this -- and his other historical
>materials -- available to us all.

Seconded


Francis Glassborow Journal Editor, Association of C & C++ Users
64 Southfield Rd
Oxford OX4 1PA +44(0)1865 246490
All opinions are mine and do not represent those of any organisation

Floyd Davidson

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to

Kaz Kylheku <k...@ashi.FootPrints.net> wrote:
>Paul Lutus <nos...@nosite.com> wrote:
>><< This was a cheap shot at a computing great IMHO. >>
>>
>>Some may not have seen the clear humorous intent, or may have wondered if it
>>was all that clear, but I'll bet Dennis Ritchie wasn't among them.
>
>Yeah, but do you think he actually *reads* this newsgroup? I suspect that he
>just dropped off the notification. The only way he will read it is if some day
>later he by chance a Deja News search on his name.
>
>The reply was clearly intended for us, not for Mr. Ritchie. :)


Over the years it has been very apparent that while, 1) dmr does
not read this group on a regular basis, 2) he definitely is made
aware of threads where his particular attention would be of
historic value, and 3) he does read the follow-ups to articles
that he posts and sometimes will even provide further
enlightenment.

The chances he has not been chuckling over this thread are none.

This is the first time to my knowledge that anyone has spoofed a
"flame" at dmr; however, it is not the first time that several
people have run off the deep end because of responses that were
thought to be flames. I do not recall exactly the person
involved, or even the exact subject, but maybe 8-9 years ago in
a thread relating to the way C handles strings Dennis posted an
article relating to zero terminated strings and BCPL compared to
C, which was immediately corrected by another poster who said
Dennis was mistaken.

That brought at least one response from a person who came a bit
unglued at the idea someone would have the brass to tell Dennis
Ritchie he was wrong. It went something like "Who are YOU to
tell *Dennis Ritchie* how it was!". Dennis, in his typical
deadpan style with no appearance of any nonsense at all, replied
to that article and pointed out that indeed he had remembered it
wrong, and indeed the person who corrected him out was as well
qualified as he was to know how it had been done originally.
(The poor fellow who let loose with the "Who are you..." was
embarrassed, but also very gracious in his apology.)

Hence comedy based on Dennis Ritchie's comp.lang.c articles is
very rare indeed, but not unheard of before Richard Heathfield's
worthy attempt. (Perhaps his is the first _intentional_ effort
though... :-)

Floyd

--
Floyd L. Davidson fl...@barrow.com
Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska)


Jeff Mullen

unread,
Jul 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/29/99
to

Richard Heathfield wrote in message
<01bed997$999aca20$0e01...@eton.powernet.co.uk>...

>Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article
><379FE9...@bell-labs.com>...
>> I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes
>> written
>> in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers (including source) to show
>> what
>> the very early stages of the language were like. This was a highly
>> transitional stage; for example, the earlier one anticipates a "long"
>> type, but doesn't have struct; the 6-months-later compiler implements
>> struct, but reuses long's slot in the type table.
>>
>> http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/~dmr/primevalC.html
>>
>> Dennis
>>
>
>DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C, which
>is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
>newsgroup.
>

He said that the code was *TAKEN OFF OF* DEC tapes, *not* that
what he was making available currently resided on them. This is a
non-problem, and your mention of it a non-sequitir.

>If you want us to comment on your source code, please post it in the body
>of your email.
>

Funny. Last time *I* did something like that, I was told by one of the
*regulars*
to *put it on a web site and post the URL.* That's what Mr. Ritchie did.
I've
checked. It's there.

>What was your C question?
>

There was an implied question:

*Is this old C code currently still useful?*

Unfortunately, I doubt that any single person alive can
satisfactorily answer that question.

>--


>Richard Heathfield
>
>The bug stops here.
>
>
>

Fergus Henderson

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
k...@ashi.FootPrints.net (Kaz Kylheku) writes:

>On Thu, 29 Jul 1999 10:18:18 -0700, Paul Lutus <nos...@nosite.com> wrote:
>><< This was a cheap shot at a computing great IMHO. >>
>>
>>Some may not have seen the clear humorous intent, or may have wondered if it
>>was all that clear, but I'll bet Dennis Ritchie wasn't among them.
>
>Yeah, but do you think he actually *reads* this newsgroup?

Which newsgroup? This thread is cross-posted.

I think Dennis Ritchie does read comp.std.c, at least occaisionally;
he has been posting a few articles there recently. Check DejaNews.

--
Fergus Henderson <f...@cs.mu.oz.au> | "I have always known that the pursuit
WWW: <http://www.cs.mu.oz.au/~fjh> | of excellence is a lethal habit"
PGP: finger f...@128.250.37.3 | -- the last words of T. S. Garp.

Arthur T. Murray

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
Ah, the heady days of creation -- 1972 and 1973 -- when Unix was born.
Dennis Ritchie, d...@bell-labs.com, wrote on Thu, 29 Jul 1999:

>
>I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from DECtapes
>written
>in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers (including source) to show
>what
>the very early stages of the language were like. This was a highly
>transitional stage; for example, the earlier one anticipates a "long"
>type, but doesn't have struct; the 6-months-later compiler implements
>struct, but reuses long's slot in the type table.
>
> http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/~dmr/primevalC.html

Thanks for the historic link, which has now been added to

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Agora/7256/c.html A C FAQ for

promoting the creation of public domain artificial intelligence (Mindix?)
as exemplified by the 19.Jul.1999 release of downloadable

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Agora/7256/mind-fpc.html Mind.Forth AI.

> Dennis

Ric Werme

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
"Richard Stamp" <richar...@acm.org> writes:

>Part of the issue here is that the whole thread has been crossposted. I
>thought that Richard's article was very funny and not really open to
>misinterpretation -- in comp.lang.c. In the other groups the situation may
>have been less clear.

Being a DECtape-owning fossil myself who has never subscribed to the
the .c groups (well, maybe did for a week 10 years ago) I admit to
being impressed with what an idiot this Heathfield character was.
However, being a fossil who's be around USENET too long, I checked
him out on Deja news and concluded he means well in most postings.
I even checked dmr's WWW page to see if there were binary dumps of
the DECtapes.

I concluded it was likely plenty of feet would be in mouths in the posts
I had not yet read.

>It's a shame that we have pretty much ignored the original subject of this
>thread.

Indeed, DECtapes were wonderful devices and astoundingly reliable. Many
other media would have lost that old code. More folks in comp.*.c should
take the time to learns about DECtapes, PDP-11s, and especially PDP-10s.

-Ric Werme

--
Ric Werme | http://people.ne.mediaone.net/werme
we...@nospam.mediaone.net | http://www.cyberportal.net/werme
^^^^^^^ delete

Douglas A. Gwyn

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
Kaz Kylheku wrote:
> I have to comment that IS a heck of a lot better than SCO's move, whose
> lawyers came up with the brilliant idea---in response to a net petition
> initiative to open up the source to V7 UNIX---to not only impose a hundred
> dollar licensing fee upon people who want a copy of the source code, but to
> also restrict licensees to sharing modifications only with other licensees.
> Last I heard, anyway. Shockingly incredible.

What's incredible is that anyone would think that a corporation
shouldn't care about protecting its intellectual property (even
if acquired from some other original developer). The $100 fee
just about covers their costs in handling your application.

Steve Meyer

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
Old Bell Labs C compiler may be "fossil" but from my recollection of
the pre-1976 Unix compiler, it has many methods and algorithms that are
superior to those in use today. Off the top of my head some are: 1) better
expression parsing (this is documented in Gries' old compiler writing
text book), 2) better optimization because machine dependent throughout,
3) better use of intermediate forms and data structures.

An interesting archeological experiment would be to try those algorithms
on modermn ansii standard C compiler syntax.

I think the reasons those old algorithms may be superior are:
1) Computer Science was part of traditional science and Bell Labs
people used and believed in scientific method. This changed in
late 1970's and early 80';s EE departments took over traditional
(in Literate and Science schools) Computer Science departments
where evaluation became manufacturability,
2) a result of moving Computer Science to EE departments
is that evaluation and promotion has become tied to efficiency of
working with industry (cronyism?).

Just my two cents.
/Steve


--
Steve Meyer Phone: (415) 296-7017
Pragmatic C Software Corp. Fax: (415) 296-0946
220 Montgomery St., Suite 925 email: sjm...@crl.com
San Francisco, CA 94104

Kaz Kylheku

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to

It would take far less than $100 for someone to make a tarball and put it on
some server somewhere. It's not the fee that I specifically object to, but
the silly licensing restrictions.

The stuff is old, and the V6 sources were already published in a book. And
it's not even comparable to modern freeware operating systems; there is
obviously no strategic advantage in hanging on to this particular bit of
intellectual property.

I believe that the move on the part of SCO was strictly a ploy to discourage
the interested users: a mere bureaucratic run-around concocted by people who
don't really understand or care why anyone would be interested in the old
stuff, and don't want to take any real initiative on their behalf.

[ Okay, time to set followups to alt.folklore.computers, I think. ]

James Kuyper Jr.

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
Kaz Kylheku wrote:
>
> On Thu, 29 Jul 1999 10:18:18 -0700, Paul Lutus <nos...@nosite.com> wrote:
> ><< This was a cheap shot at a computing great IMHO. >>
> >
> >Some may not have seen the clear humorous intent, or may have wondered if it
> >was all that clear, but I'll bet Dennis Ritchie wasn't among them.
>
> Yeah, but do you think he actually *reads* this newsgroup? I suspect that he

I think he does read it; he makes contributions fairly frequently.

Peter Seebach

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
In article <37A13AE8...@wizard.net>,

So? It's widely documented that "wizards" have mystical powers and the
"second sight". I have always assumed he merely posts "appropriate" responses
based on hunches about what people are talking about. In some cases, he
inserts cleverly forged "References:" headers to make it look like part of a
thread.

Anyway, this one's not the "real" Dennis Ritchie; after the Bell
Labs/Lucent/AT&T breakup, Dennis ended up working for all three of them, so
you should immediately distrust anyone with an address that looks like
he works for only one. It's actually
d...@research.att.com
m...@bell-labs.com
r...@research.lucent.com
but the therapy is coming along nicely.

Eric Gillespie

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote in article

>> ... from DECtapes written in 1972-73, there are exhumed C compilers


>> (including source) to show what the very early stages of the language were
>> like.

Cool! Some historical background for the ANSI people to see how their standard
was developed!

On 29 Jul 1999, Richard wrote:
>DECtapes are highly platform specific, and are not covered by ANSI C, which
>is the subject of this newsgroup (comp.lang.c). Try a DEC-related
>newsgroup.

Great troll, Richard! Considering this is one of the guys who practically
WROTE the language, I'd say his source code would be well worth studying.

--

/| _,.:*^*:., |\ Cheers from the Viking family, including Marmalade
| |_/' viking@ `\_| | Running Linux and OpenDOS in Christchurch!
| flying-brick | $FunnyMail Bilbo : Now far ahead the Road has gone,
\_.caverock.net.nz_/ 5.39 in LOTR : Let others follow it who can!


Chris Dollin

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
Martin Ambuhl wrote:

> Richard, there are people who who will not recognize the tongue-in-cheek
> nature of your posting.

I (should) find it enormously hard to believe that *anyone* who read
Richard's post *completely* wouldn't see that it was a joke. Even
without
knowing who Richard "is" (I don't).

> You simply have to decorate these things with smileys.

If he had done that, it would not have been funny.

(Yes, I thought it was funny. Not hilarious; just funny. I know who dmr
is.
I know what a nasal demon is. Perhaps it's not funny if you don't.)

--
Chris "with a *machine*!" Dollin

John Birch

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
On Thu, 29 Jul 1999 19:31:00 GMT, se...@plethora.net (Peter Seebach)
wrote:

>In article <w10o3.60083$AU3.1...@news2.giganews.com>,
>Paul Lutus <paul...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>>Some may not have seen the clear humorous intent, or may have wondered if it
>>was all that clear, but I'll bet Dennis Ritchie wasn't among them.

Oh I saw the humorous _intent_, just didn't find it humorous! I don't
claim to know how Dennis Ritchie would interpret it.

>I think this was a beautiful experiment. While I agree that dmr's post
>was clearly topical, I think most of the flames the Richard got for his
>effort were misdirected.

Well, I hope you don't consider my message a flame, maybe the TIC
comment about trains was a bit OTT tho'. I still find it a 'cheap
shot' tho', but that probably says more about me than the original
posting :-)

>There's nothing wrong with flaming Dennis Ritchie, if he gets confused and
>posts in the wrong group.

Which he didn't. Bearing in mind that it was posted to the a.f.c,
comp.lang.c and comp.std.c group**s**. Not OT for any AFAIK.

>The argument against the "flame" Richard posted shouldn't be "how dare you
>flame dmr". It should be "the evolution of the language is important to
>understanding the standard and how it got here".

Indeed!

>Even dmr can post off-topic, even in a C newsgroup. He didn't this time, but
>the knee-jerk defenses are sort of silly. (For that matter, isn't it fairly
>obvious that, if it came down to it, he could defend himself plenty well?)

Well consider my response as a second hook on the line then ;-)


regards John B.


Douglas A. Gwyn

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
Eric Gillespie wrote:
> Cool! Some historical background for the ANSI people to see how their standard
> was developed!

? How does it do that, pray tell?

Linus Torvalds

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
In article <37A11263...@null.net>,

Douglas A. Gwyn <DAG...@null.net> wrote:
>
>What's incredible is that anyone would think that a corporation
>shouldn't care about protecting its intellectual property (even
>if acquired from some other original developer). The $100 fee
>just about covers their costs in handling your application.

What costs?

They could have just released it, no licensing required. Like the
original mail in this thread did.

Linus

Robert Brady

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
In comp.std.c Jeff Mullen <jmu...@dolbey.com> wrote:
>>--
>>Richard Heathfield
>>
>>The bug stops here.
>>
>>
>>
>>nasaldemon: "Richard, they won't get it. They won't understand. You're
>>gonna be shot down in flames for this one, big-time."
>>
>>Richard: "I know. It's one of those do-it-and-damn-the-consequences days."
>>

Did you read this bit? If not, don't you feel a bit silly now?

--
Robert
(Ancalimon)

David R Tribble

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
Dennis Ritchie <d...@bell-labs.com> wrote:
>>> I finally prepared another fossil for museum exhibition: from
>>> DECtapes written in 1972-73, ...
>>> http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/~dmr/primevalC.html
...

Douglas W. Jones wrote:
> I only looked briefly at the code Ritchie posted, so I didn't notice

> if the macro preprocessor was part of the language yet, or just
> something that was presented as an idea at the talk. This would
> have been in the summer of 1973, by the way.

DMR states in the HTML doc that the preprocessor didn't yet exist
at the time. But I wonder if he's found any source for the early C
preprocessor(s) yet?

-- David R. Tribble, da...@tribble.com --

Enrico Badella

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to

Kaz Kylheku wrote:
>
> I believe that the move on the part of SCO was strictly a ploy to discourage
> the interested users: a mere bureaucratic run-around concocted by people who
> don't really understand or care why anyone would be interested in the old
> stuff, and don't want to take any real initiative on their behalf.

Agree. SCO is just a very small company with more bean counters than
visionares. Compare it with DEC that freed all 36 bit software, gives VMS
hobbyist licenses. I signed the petition but refuse to pay $100 for V6. Given
the appropriate HW resources I rather run TOPS-10

e.

========================================================================
Enrico Badella email: enrico....@softstar.it
Soft*Star srl e...@vax.cnuce.cnr.it
InterNetworking Specialists tel: +39-011-746092
Via Camburzano 9 fax: +39-011-746487
10143 Torino, Italy

Wanted, for hobbist use, any type of PDP and microVAX hardware,software,
manuals,schematics,etc. and DEC-10 docs or manuals
==========================================================================

Paul Lutus

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
<< They could have just released it, no licensing required. Like the
original mail in this thread did. >>

Oh, of course, you *would* say that ... :)

OTOH, $100 as a "licensing fee" is uncomfortably close to the full cost of
many applications that are sold for a profit by money-hungry corporations.
One can't help thinking this is simply a retail cost under another name.

I prefer my own "Careware" program -- give programs away, but provoke a tiny
bit of thought at the same time. www.arachnoid.com/careware.

--

Paul Lutus
www.arachnoid.com


Linus Torvalds <torv...@transmeta.com> wrote in message
news:7nslra$nmj$1...@palladium.transmeta.com...

Douglas A. Gwyn

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
Linus Torvalds wrote:
> In article <37A11263...@null.net>,
> Douglas A. Gwyn <DAG...@null.net> wrote:
> >What's incredible is that anyone would think that a corporation
> >shouldn't care about protecting its intellectual property (even
> >if acquired from some other original developer). The $100 fee
> >just about covers their costs in handling your application.
> What costs?
> They could have just released it, no licensing required.

Sure, if they wanted to surrender their property rights.
7th Edition UNIX utilities are close enough to modern UNIX
versions that protecting them has some value to their owner.

Richard M. Alderson III

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
In article <37A2002B...@softstar.it> Enrico Badella
<enrico....@softstar.it> writes:

>Agree. SCO is just a very small company with more bean counters than
>visionares. Compare it with DEC that freed all 36 bit software, gives VMS

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


>hobbyist licenses. I signed the petition but refuse to pay $100 for V6. Given
>the appropriate HW resources I rather run TOPS-10

Oh? Please cite a reference for this item. We'd be extremely interested...
--
Rich Alderson Last LOTS Tops-20 Systems Programmer, 1984-1991
Current maintainer, MIT TECO EMACS (v. 170)
last name @ XKL dot COM Chief systems administrator, XKL LLC, 1998-now

eup...@cwcom.net

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to

On 1999-07-30 vik...@brick.flying-brick.caverock.net.nz(EricGillespie) said:
:Great troll, Richard! Considering this is one of the guys who


:practically WROTE the language, I'd say his source code would be
:well worth studying.

Why? By his own admission, he was a beginner at C when he wrote it. I'm
sure his coding style has changed a great deal since then.

More interesting will be to see exactly what language it compiles...
--
the desk lisard communa time's taught the killing game herself

Howard S Shubs

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
In article <Yipo3.724$Zp.3...@news.mcmail.com>, eup...@cwcom.net wrote:

>Why? By his own admission, he was a beginner at C when he wrote it. I'm
>sure his coding style has changed a great deal since then.

OTOH, he was the most experienced user.
--
Howard S Shubs hsh...@mindspring.com hsh...@bix.com
The Denim Adept Is this the right room for an argument?
SPAM: u...@ftc.gov postmaster@[127.0.0.1] abuse@[127.0.0.1]

Gergo Barany

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to

So are the BSD utilities. If I were to release my own proprietary Unix,
I would take one of the BSD distibutions as my base. The BSD license is
permissive enough; in fact, it basically states "take the source and do
whatever." Unix *utilities* are basically worthless nowadays (how hard
is it to implement cat?), only a well-written kernel holds interesting
technical information.
Of course I won't release my own Unix, the operating system market is
too saturated, especially since GNU finds more and more users.

Gergo

--
A bachelor never quite gets over the idea that he is a thing of beauty
and a boy for ever.
-- Helen Rowland

GU d- s:+ a--- C++>$ UL+++ P>++ L+++ E>++ W+ N++ o? K- w--- !O !M !V
PS+ PE+ Y+ PGP+ t* 5+ X- R>+ tv++ b+>+++ DI+ D+ G>++ e* h! !r !y+

Paul Eggert

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99
to
"Douglas A. Gwyn" <gw...@arl.mil> writes:

>Linus Torvalds wrote:
>> They could have just released it, no licensing required.

>Sure, if they wanted to surrender their property rights.
>7th Edition UNIX utilities are close enough to modern UNIX
>versions that protecting them has some value to their owner.

Superior free replacements exist for every 7th edition utility.
The original source code is practically worthless, though it
does have historical interest.

I would not examine the 7th edition source even if I had a copy,
since the current owner of the code could then accuse me of stealing
their intellectual property. I wan't look at dmr's old compiler
either, for similar silly reasons. Too bad -- it would be amusing.
But such are the wonders of modern intellectual property law.

Edward Rice

unread,
Jul 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/30/99