Multics50: Background

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The Multics50 Initiatives

Slides from MAC50 Symposium

Multics50 Background

In 1965 the worldwide computer community was introduced to the Multics operating system. At the Fall Joint Computer Conference a set of six papers describing this goal within MIT's Project MAC were presented by team members from MIT, General Electric and Bell Labs. The designers of Multics brought together advanced features from several computer systems and added innovations of their own to define an operating system that forms the basis of many of today's computers.

While Multics itself did survive the Y2K phenomenon, it was not operational when the twenty-first century began. As the twentieth century and an operating Multics drew to a close, the operating system was more than adequate when compared to its contemporaries. However, the overall body of knowledge for Multics then and to this day primarily consists of the papers, reports, and books written for the Multics of 1965-1972. A second generation hardware platform was operational in 1972 and the software matured as well. Yet, unlike the Multics in its first seven years, there was no coalesced knowledge base to describe this more sophisticated system.

Between the time the last Multics shut down and the present there have been several attempts to in some way restart Multics as a working computer system. These endeavors were stymied by what were typically non-technical reasons. Now, as the fiftieth anniversary of the original papers approaches we have yet another incentive to introduce the current generation of computer scientists, engineers and students to the architecture and innovation that was Multics. We warmly welcome anyone who would like to take part in this anniversary effort.

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Copyright (c) 2014 by Michael A. Pandolfo [rev. bg140614a]