I ran my own blog from November 2006 till October 2014. All posts are still online, but I don't have time to update it anymore. Please note that all images and media files have been removed when the backup was moved to a new host in early 2016. Enjoy!

I Apologize For The Father Of UNIX And Blame It On The Viral Nature Of Social Networking

4. december 2007

What will you get if you google the "father of UNIX"? Ken Thompson? Well, that might have been true a few weeks ago, but now you'll get tons of news about MIT's source code release of the MULTICS system which is, in fact, usually NOT called the "father of UNIX". This is all my fault. And now I'll tell you what happened...

On Saturday, November 10, 2007, I wrote a blog post about the release of the MULTICS sources by the MIT that day. I was quite excited about the MULTICS release, as the code finally became available and people had to wait so long for it. But I was in a rush and I had some trouble finding an interesting title for the post as most people probably never heard of MULTICS and wouldn't make the connection to UNIX. So I ended up with "MIT releases the sources of MULTICS, the father of UNIX!" 

I didn't expect my post to get a lot of attention, it would be just one news message among others. Big mistake. I don't know if I was really the very first one to post the news, but probably I was (maybe even the MIT hadn't started to promote the release yet). It got duggdel.icio.used and stumbled, and so it started to spread over the web...

Many news sites then took over my original post - including Slashdot.orgLinux.comLinux Today and many more plus a whole bunch of blogs, they changed it a bit, but kept the title including the "father of UNIX" thing. This is how the "MULTICS is the father of UNIX" phrase finally made its way to Google index.

So you see, basically it's all my fault.

And what now? Well, I just don't know.

Is this a real problem now? Can't tell.

At least, apologies to Ken Thompson (even if I'm quite sure he doesn't worry about this), and a small bio:

Ken Thompson (or simply ken in hacker circles) was born February 4, 1943, he's a pioneer of computer science notable for his work with the B programming language and his shepherding the UNIX and Plan 9 from Bell Labs operating systems. In the 1960s, he and Dennis Ritchie worked on the Multics operating system, this is when he created the Bon programming language.

Ken and Dennis switched to the Bell Labs where they created the UNIX operating system, partly based on what the learned from the Multics OS. In late 2000, Thompson retired from Bell Labs, and now works at Google as a Distinguished Engineer. If you'd like to know more, go on and read the Wikipedia article about Ken Thompson.