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The CTSS Interviews

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129711D
Original Publication Date: 1992-Mar-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Fernando J. Corbato: AUTHOR [+5]

Abstract

Interviewer: Robert Rosin, Editor, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing John A.M Lee, Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1992 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The CTSS Interviews

Location: Laboratory for Computer Science Fifth-Floor Conference Room Massachusetts Institute of Technology 545 Technology Square Cambridge, Mass.

Date: October 18, 1988

Participants: Fernando J. Corbato Allan L. Scherr Douglas T. Ross Martin Greenberger

Interviewer: Robert Rosin, Editor, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing John A.M Lee, Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing

On the day following the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Project MAC held in Cambridge on October 16 and 17,1988, two small groups of participants in the developments of CTSS and Project MAC met to exchange recollections about their activities. These interviews are separated into two parts, concentrating on each of the two developmental stages of time- sharing, although it was impossible to strictly maintain the separation since the discussions naturally overlapped the time periods. By choice, the interviewers guided the discussion to concentrate on the more personal and background aspects of this history, since the technological history has been well documented in the open literature. (See the References and Bibliography section on pp. 52-54.) The footnotes and reference citations were added during editing.

Biographical sketches -- Corbato, Ross, and Scherr*1

Corbato: The war broke out in 1941 for the United States; our high school went into long hours and I saw a chance to get out in a hurry. I went to UCLA as a student with the threat of the draft looming over me. Suddenly some people came by who were concerned about the ability of the Navy to maintain and repair the incredible amount of electronic equipment it was getting. There was a program called the Eddy Program, and they gave me the opportunity to join the program and get an education as an electronic technician. One of the benefits, of course, was one did not get drafted or get assigned to be a cook or something worse. So I enlisted at the age of 17 in the Navy and went through a year-long program as an electronic technician. I got exposed to some of the earliest and largest electronic systems then deployed in the Navy; mostly radars, lorans, and sonars. I got [exposure] both on land and on ship, and it was an incredible background experience. I did not realize until later how important that was.

Lee: And how that experience paralleled that of other people in some respects in radar and other analog applications? [Such as the wartime experiences of Maurice Wilkes.53]

Corbato: Yes, and it gave me a large-system perspective which was very, very important, and I view that as seminal in my own career. After the war I got a chance to go back to college. I went to Caltech. Since everyone wanted to be a physicist in those days, I wanted to be a physicist. Then I came to do graduate work a...