You Asked For It – You Got It

DB ITS.1633. DDT.1546.
You're all alone, Fair share = 70%

I’m alone. Alone with one of the most legendary operating system of all times: ITS.

You really should try it. It will be easy to setup on one of your spare PDP-10s. Just in case you don’t have a spare PDP-10 lying around: there’s an excellent historic machine simulator called simh (Free Software and runs on most unices). Setting up ITS on the simulated PDP is not exactly simple, but I found this step-by-step description to work quite well.

It’s quite a nice thing to be able to emulate a monster like the PDP-10 on a small black plastic thingy called “Travelmate”. Tells you something ’bout progress and Moore’s Law and stuff…

Now, after booting ITS greets you with the prompt showed above – and that’s it. There is no login needed.

Yes, you read that right: no login. Full access to everything. For everyone. On a multi-user operating system. Quite a pleasant environment! No wonder ITS was one of the roots of the hacker culture – free information, no barriers, flower power, right?

There’s a lot of ITS-based hacker folklore floating around. The standard editor on ITS, for instance, is commonly described as the unfriendliest piece of software ever made: TECO is probably the ultimate You Asked For It – You Got It program.

Just about any possible typing error while talking with TECO will probably destroy your program, or even worse – introduce subtle and mysterious bugs in a once working subroutine.

Now, that’s not unlike what the Windows-Guys say about vi and the unix shell, nowadays. So let’s step in and see what it’s all about!

(Please Log In) 

DB ITS 1633 Peek 629 15/31/127 00:00:34359738367 Up time = 38 Memory: Free=408 Runnable Total=11 Out=5 Users: High=6 Runnable=1 Index Uname Jname Sname Status TTY Core Out %Time Time PIs 0 SYS SYS SYS HANG ? 42 0 0% 1 CORE JOB CORE UUO ? 0 0 0% 2 ___002 HACTRN ___002 HANG > 30 9 0% 5 ___002 PEEK ___002 +TTYBO T0 C 11 3 0% 3 TARAKA DMPCPY DMPCPY SLEEP ? 3 0 0% 4 PFTHMG DRAGON PFTHMG SLEEP ? 6 0 0% Fair Share 103% Totals: 92 0% Logout time = Lost 0% Idle 97% Null time = 38

A HACTRN (think DDT, think shell) is up and running – let’s start TECO:


Hm, must be making something wrong… Let’s get some help:


Eh, what?

Well, it seems that either my ITS installation is lacking some files, or I, as the prototypical luser, am doing something very stupid… Maybe I have to mount some stuff first?

I think I’ll start with reading the fucking manual

To be continued, I guess.

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