Multics50: A Professional/Academic Conference

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Multics50 Background

The Multics50 Initiatives

A Conference to Commemorate Fifty Years of Modern Computing

While the cloud initiative presents the greatest technical challenge of the three initiatives the conference initiative presents the greatest networking and logistical challenge. In order to successfully host a national conference in the fall of 2015 (for the fiftieth anniversary of Multics) the pieces should be in place right around the creation of this website. Basically, this initiative needs to start yesterday.

A large part of the hesitation is due to the lack of a compelling theme. Certainly the people who worked on Multics over the years would welcome a major anniversary event to get together, celebrate, reminisce, and reflect on what Multics meant to them and to computers in general. However, the population of computer scientists and engineers who received their degrees in the twenty-first century most likely only know Multics as a reference in one of their textbooks, and certainly not worth the price of conference registration.

Several people have suggested that the conference center on the fiftieth anniversary of what Multics represents; namely, a bridge between what computing commonly was before 1965 and what it is today. Multics defined the fundamental interface between several of today's most widely-used operating systems and the people who use them. In addition, Multics influenced hardware design in a whole family of popular processors. In this way the conference would be a historical review of computer science with Multics being the lens which focused future developments.

Finally, if the cloud VM initiative is successful, a keynote of the conference can be the presentation of Bull HN's Multics Release 12.5 code as an running system, completing the intentions when the code was donated to MIT in 2007: a practical, living exhibit of one of the most influential contributions to computer science.

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Copyright (c) 2014 by Michael A. Pandolfo [rev. cn140616a]