January 2009


Okay, you degenerates! Let’s see how much you really know about the history of Unix.

— try to do the quiz yourself first, spoilers follow —

I’m doing the quiz for 2 days now, and a few hundred Google queries and digging in old archives and tapes later, I found out about 66% (I already knew 15%). It is tough. Here are my answers. Questions marked with “?” are not yet answered, questions marked with ”*” I knew without looking.

Thanks to Lincoln Quirk, questions 4, 8, 9 and 10 could be answered.

Thanks to Eric Cooper, question 37 could be answered.

Huge thanks to George Rosamond, who sent in the official solution from ;login: Volume 9, Number 4 (September 1984), which was provided to him by Brian Redman!

If someone has additional sources, please mail me.

  1. The source code motel: your source code checks in, but it never checks out. What is it?

  2. Who wrote the first Unix screen editor?
    Official answer: Irons. (probably this).
    I assume this is the em editor, a predecessor to vi.*

  3. Using TSO is like kicking a [what?] down the beach?
    dead whale.

  4. What is the filename created by the original dsw(1)?
    dsw asks whether to delete each file in a directory.
    Lincoln Quirk says it is “core”. (awesome)

  5. Which edition of Unix first had pipes?
    V3 had the <, > syntax, V4 supported ^ and |.*

  6. What is -=O=-?
    The seperator of empire(6) login and actual game action.

  7. Which Stephen R. Bourne wrote the shell?
    Official answer: software|1138|regis

  8. Adam Buchsbaum’s original login was sjb. Who is sjb?
    Lincoln Quirk: *Sol Buchsbaum, his father, VP of Network Planning @ AT&T

  9. What was the original processor in the Teletype DMD-5620?
    Lincoln Quirk: *Bellmac 32000 (aka WE 32000)

  10. What was the telephone extension of the author of mpx(2)?
    Official answer: 7775
    Linkcoln Quirk: *The author seems to have been Rob Pike, can’t figure out the actual extension

  11. Which machine resulted in the naming of the “NUXI problem”?
    the IBM Series 1 minicomputer

  12. What customs threat is dangerous only when dropped from an airplane?
    Official answer: the Chess machine Belle

  13. Who wrote the Bourne shell?
    Stephen R. Bourne.

  14. What operator in the Mashey shell was replaced by “here documents”?
    pump … !

  15. What names appear on the title page of the 3.0 manual?
    Official answer: Dolotta, Petrucelli, Olsson
    1st ed: K. Thompson, D. M. Ritchie

  16. Sort the following into chronological order:a) PWB 1.2, b) V7, c) Whirlwind, e) System V, f) 4.2BSD, g) MERT.
    Official answer: c a g b e f

  17. The CRAY-2 will be so fast it [what?] in 6 seconds?
    Official answer: Infinite loops or P=NP
    I think “runs infinite loops”. But I saw “cooks a chicken” as well.

  18. How many lights are on the front panel of the original 11/70?
    Official answer: 52

  19. What does FUBAR mean?
    The Failed UniBus Address Register in a VAX.
    (Also fucked up beyond all recognition.)

  20. What does “joff” stand for?
    Official answer: jerq obscure feature finder
    joff was a debugger running on blits.

  21. What is “Blit” an acronym of?
    Official answer: nothing

  22. Who was rabbit!bimmler?
    Rob Pike
    Feb 1983 Rob Pike’s first prank as Bimmler

  23. Into how many pieces did Ken Thompson’s deer disintegrate?
    Official answer: 3

  24. What name is most common at USENIX conferences?
    Official answer: Joy or Pike

  25. What is the US patent number for the setuid bit?
    4,135,240: Protection of data file contents, inventor Dennis Ritchie

  26. What is the patent number that appears in Unix documentation?
    M-209 cipher machine, U. S. Patent Number 2,089,603
    /usr/doc/password: Password Security: A Case History

  27. Who satisified the patent office of the viability of the setuid bit patent?
    Official answer: faulkner
    Lincoln Quirk: This is a strong hint: (section 3)

  28. How many Unix systems existed when the Second Edition manual was printed?
    “The number of UNIX installations has grown to 10, with more expected.”* (I assume decimal numbers.)
    –The UNIX Programmer’s Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972.

  29. Which Bell Labs location is HL?
    Official answer: Short Hills

  30. Who mailed out the Sixth Edition tapes?
    Ken Thompson and Irma Biren

  31. Which university stole Unix by phone?
    Official answer: Waterloo

  32. Who received the first rubber chicken award?
    Official answer: Dennis Mumaugh

  33. Name a feature of C not in Kernighan and Ritchie.
    Official answer: enum, structure assignment, void
    (of course, void… sigh.)

  34. What company did cbosg!ccf work for?
    Official answer: Western Electric
    BTL Columbus

  35. What does Bnews do?
    Official answer: suck, gulp buckets
    B News was a Usenet news server developed at the University of California, Berkeley by Matt Glickman and Mark Horton as a replacement for A News.*

  36. Who said “SEX, DRUGS and UNIX”?
    Official answer: Michael Tilson
    Alex Morton

  37. What law firm distributed Empire?
    Eric Cooper: I’m pretty sure Peter Langston, author of Empire, went to work at the NYC law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell.

  38. What computer was requested by Ken Thompson, but refused by management?
    Official answer: PDP-10

  39. Who is the most obsessed private pilot in USENIX?
    Official answer: George Goble

  40. What operating system runs on the 3B-20D?

  41. Who wrote find(1)?
    Official answer: Dick Haight

  42. In what year did Bell Labs organization charts become proprietary?
    Official answer: 1983

  43. What is the Unix epoch in Cleveland?
    Official answer: 1969 Dec 31 19:00 (time zone)

  44. What language preceded C?
    Official answer: nb

  45. What language preceded B?
    Official answer: bon or fortran

  46. What letter is mispunched by bcd(6)?

  47. What terminal does the Blit emulate?
    Official answer: jerq
    dumb terminals

  48. What does “trb” stand for (it’s Andy Tannenbaum’s login)?
    “tribble” was his nickname.

  49. What do honey and allegra!honey have in common?allegra!honey is no what?
    Official answer: lady
    The login belongs to Peter Honeyman.

  50. What is the one-line description in vs.c?
    ”* Screw Works interface via DC-11”

  51. What is the TU10 tape boot for the PDP-11/70 starting at location 100000 (in octal)?
    Official answer: 012700 172526 010040 012740 060003 105710 012376 005007

  52. What company owns the trademark on Writer’s Workbench (TM) Software?
    Official answer: at&t communications (at least back then?)

  53. Who designed Belle?
    Official answer: Joseph Condon*

  54. Who coined the name “Unix”?
    In the 1970s the project was named Unics, and eventually could
    support two simultaneous users. Brian Kernighan invented this name
    as a contrast to Multics; the spelling was later changed to Unix.

  55. What manual page mentioned Urdu?
    “The “-”option suppresses the help from English and should be used
    if the document is written in, for example, Urdu.”

  56. What politician is mentioned in the Unix documentation?
    Official answer: Nixon

  57. What program was compat(1) written to support?
    Official answer: Zork/Adventure

  58. Who is mctesq?
    Official answer: Michael Toy Esquire
    “Dungeon consultant Mr. Mctesq” in aard.
    Something related to rogue.

  59. What was ubl?
    Official answer: Rogue or “Under Bell Labs”

  60. Who bought the first commercial Unix license?
    Official answer: RAND

  61. Who bought the first Unix license?
    Official answer: Columbia

  62. Who signed the Sixth Edition licenses?
    Official answer: Dick Shahpazian

  63. What color is the front console on the PDP-11/45 (exactly)?
    Official answer: puce

  64. How many different meanings does Unix assign to ‘.’?
    Official answer: lots|many|countless|myriad|thousands

    • current directory
    • end of input in ed, mail…
    • marker for hidden files
    • single character not newline in regexs
  65. Who said, “Smooth rotation butters no parsnips”?
    John W. Tukey

  66. What was the original name for cd(1)?

  67. Which was the first edition of the manual to be typeset?
    Official answer: 4

  68. Which was the first edition of Unix to have standard error/diagnostic output?
    Official answer: 5

  69. Who ran the first Unix Support Group?
    Official answer: Joseph F. Maranzano
    Berk Tague

  70. Whose Ph.D. thesis concerned Unix paging?
    Özalp BabaoğluÖzalp_Babaoğlu

  71. Who (other than the obvious) designed the original Unix file system?
    Official answer: Rudd Canaday

  72. Who wrote the PWB shell?
    John Mashey

  73. Who invented uucp?
    UUCP was originally written at AT&T Bell Laboratories, by Mike Lesk,
    and early versions of UUCP are sometimes referred to as System V

  74. Who thought of PWB?
    The Programmer’s Workbench was started in 1974 by Evan Ivie and Rudd
    Canaday to provide tools for teams of programmers to manage their
    source code and collaborate on projects with other team members.

  75. What does grep stand for?
    g/re/p from (s)ed*

  76. What hardware device does “dsw” refer to?
    Official answer: console 7
    Possibly the PDP front panel, this would reflect that dsw(1) initially required entering the inode number of a file there to delete it. (“delete from switches”)

  77. What was the old name of the “sys” directory?
    Official answer: ken

  78. What was the old name of the “dev” directory?
    Official answer: dmr

  79. Who has written many random number generators, but never one that worked?
    Official answer: Ken Thompson
    WARNING The author of this routine has been writing random-number generators for many years and has never been known to write one that worked.

  80. Where was the first Unix system outside 127?
    Official answer: patent

  81. What was the first Unix network?
    Official answer: spider

  82. What was the original syntax for ls -l|pr -h ?
    ls -l >"pr -h">*

  83. Why is there a comment in the shell source “/* Must not be a register variable */”?
    Official answer: registers/longjump

  84. What is it you’re not expected to understand?
    Official answer: 6|5&process
    broken stack frame switching*

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