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Bell Labs Unix Group Disbanded

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the sad-days-of-history dept.

Unix 270

wandazulu writes "Peter Salus over at UnixReview.com is reporting that AT&T Department 1127, responsible for creating and maintaining Unix, has been officially disbanded. The article provides an interesting "where are they now?" list of the original authors of Unix."

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270 comments

And another!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13335966)

Slaytanic is gae fr1st post. 3 this week, w00t!

we've still got Google, for now (5, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13335967)

I think this is sad, and a little ominous. I worked at a telco years ago, and managed to fanagle a chat on the phone with Ritchie one time when a Bell worker was on site for some software installations. Cool.

Anyway, in my arguments to encourage research into trying new ways of doing things, I always used Bell Labs as my favorite example/reason why we should. Guess I won't have that anymore. Sigh.

What I fear most is the lack of research for research's sake. A lot of things we use today are a direct or indirect result of companies allowing a certain amount of "what if" thinking and activity to go on. Even better, some companies, like Bell Labs actually allocated specifically for that.

I don't think research in commercial context is really research at all and may even be counterproductive in creating new and better technology (if commercial research into products were for "quality", would there even be a Britney Spears?).

The last bastion I know of and trust is Google. They seem to be dedicated to the cause. But, they're young, they're new, and they haven't had to deal with stockholders in bad times yet.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (1, Interesting)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 8 years ago | (#13335996)

I think this is sad, and a little ominous.

Maybe and maybe not. Perhaps they believe that UNIX has run it's course, and are giving Linux the nod? Of course I don't really know what I'm talking about...

Re:we've still got Google, for now (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336056)

1127 was no longer associted with UNIX. They invented it.
Due to anti-trust restriction, AT&T was never allowed
to market or profit from UNIX.

Unix systems source code was sold a while by AT&T to
Novell which SCO took over.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (2, Informative)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336207)

"Due to anti-trust restriction, AT&T was never allowed to market or profit from UNIX."

They were free to compete in the computer industry after the divestiture of 1984.

http://www.obsoletecomputermuseum.org/3b2/ [obsoleteco...museum.org]

They sold tens of thousands of those things.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (4, Insightful)

toddbu (748790) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336171)

Or perhaps it's because there's high-quality research going on in garages and dorm rooms across the country. Back when a "cheap" computer costs thousands of dollars, people had to cooperate because of resource constraints. Now I can pull a used PC out of the trash and create the world's best software with virtually no investment other than my time.

It's tough to say goodbye to an old friend, but I'd never want to go back to the "good old days" that spawned those conditions.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336368)

I would love to go back to those good old days. They were better in all respects.

If anyone had told me, back in 1976, what this field would turn into, I would have avoided it like anthrax.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (5, Informative)

CondeZer0 (158969) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336202)

First of all, Linux is just an Unix clone, and it never had many fans at Bell Labs.

And Bell Labs gave up Unix _long_ ago:
Not only is UNIX dead, it's starting to smell really bad. -- Rob Pike circa 1991

Bell Labs moved from Unix to Plan 9 [bell-labs.com] in the late 80' and then went on to work on Inferno [vitanuova.com] .

Both Plan 9 and Inferno are Open Source now and live on outside Bell Labs, but their developers like to be very quiet, they rather code than talk or maintain websites.

But here are a couple of links:


And also many of the ideas of Plan 9 and Inferno live on as part of other projects like v9fs [sourceforge.net] (9P distributed file system protocol support for Linux), Plan 9 from User Space [swtch.com] (a port of many Plan 9 components to Unix), and wmii [modprobe.de] (a window manager partially inspired by Acme [bell-labs.com] .)

Re:we've still got Google, for now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336265)

First of all, Linux is just an Unix clone, and it never had many fans at Bell Labs.

I'd be incredibly suprised if this is an accurate statement. I'd like to see anything that backs up your statement.

Off-topic: What the hell is up with this "It's only been 8 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment" crap? Yeah, no shit. It doesn't take that long to respond thoughtfully. 20 seconds was reasonable.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336393)

This is common knowledge(and shared feeling) by anyone that ever had anything to do with Bell Labs.

Some of it even made headlines eons ago, most links seem to be dead by now, but I found a slashdot article about it, title could not be more explicit:

Thompson Critical of Linux, poor ESR was so taken aback that had to go ask for a "clarification" from Ken.

Hell, go read 9fans [psu.edu] , not one week goes by without someone expressing how much they 'love' Linux(or Lunix, as it's known there).

Oh, oh, and here is another quote taken directly from the Plan 9 fortunes file:

Linux: written by amateurs for amateurs. - D. Presotto

And of course the classic:

This is not LINUX! This is Plan 9. There are rules. -boyd/walter

Re:we've still got Google, for now (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336297)

> Not only is UNIX dead, it's starting to smell really bad. -- Rob Pike circa 1991

Jeez, this was right around the release of SVR4. Unix wasn't smelling bad, it was just starting to look like a real OS.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (2, Interesting)

zardo (829127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336016)

Google doesn't do any research. What does google do? They may facilitate research with their books.google.com and whatnot, but everything they do is money motivated. They make huge amounts of money. If your feelings were accurate google would be spending a lot more on research.

There is a lot of research that goes on you just never hear about it. How about http://www.stirlingengine.com/ [stirlingengine.com] or http://www.nanosolar.com/ [nanosolar.com] ?? Those companies founders are risking it all, and if they fail, you'll never hear about it.

You dissed google (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336050)


Moderation -1
    100% Overrated


This is how dissent is treated on Slashdot. No discussion, just punishment.

Somebody correct this (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336083)

This post has been unfairly modded. Please, brother, can you spare a point for zardo? Even an 'Underrated' will do.

Re:Somebody correct this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336174)

Sounds like an anti-google scam to me

Re:we've still got Google, for now (1)

WillWare (11935) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336218)

Google doesn't do any research.

Google has a policy of giving people a percentage of their work hours to fiddle around with personal interests. At worst, it raises morale. At best it produces new business opportunities.

But ignoring that, even Google as a company probably does more research than you might think. Of course profit will be a big motivator for it, but I bet there's a lot of very cool stuff going on inside that hasn't yet been publicized, and some may never be until somebody writes a book in fifteen years.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (1, Informative)

Ex Machina (10710) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336285)

Google doesn't do any research.


WHAT YOU SAY? [google.com]


[totally obvious whoring, sorry.]

Re:we've still got Google, for now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336366)

That's a sad excuse for research.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (1)

akhomerun (893103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336353)

everything they do is money motivated

even with pure research facilities, it's ALWAYS money motivated, not just for fun, especially when a corperation is backing it.

you really think people can't make any money off unix?

it's not just google doing it. if a research facility is researching solar panels, engines, new forms of transportation, or environmental stuff, they are obviously going to get money from the government or from being able to sell a new form of transportation or an alternative fuel, duh!

i've always wanted a stirling engine. i bet it could do something with my laptop, considering how hot it is.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (1)

nido (102070) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336372)

There is a lot of research that goes on you just never hear about it. How about http://www.stirlingengine.com/ [stirlingengine.com] or http://www.nanosolar.com/ [nanosolar.com] ?? Those companies founders are risking it all, and if they fail, you'll never hear about it.

but hasn't it always been that way? Er, well - maybe it used to be that way. Today we have ginormous established companies that use all the tools available (primarly lobyists/governments) to suppress competitors that make them obsolete.

thanks for the links, btw.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336028)

First, this has been a long time coming so nobody should be surprised.

Second, this lab has served its purpose (very well, I might add), and there is really no reason to keep it going if it's not producing.

Third, UNIX is alive and well without Bell Labs. In fact, one could argue that Bell Labs has been out of the UNIX game for a long, long time.

We don't like this news because of nostalgia. But from a business argument it makes good cents, er, sense.

p.s. I don't think Google is anywhere near the league of Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, etc.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336085)

Uhh, Google doesn't really seem like a research organization in the sense that the UNIX group was at Bell Labs. Google basically takes other people's ideas and makes them better:

1.) Search - definitely already done before (and fairly well... altavista)
2.) Webmail - hotmail, yahoo, etc.
3.) Maps/directions - mapquest (I should mention here that mapquest still gives far better directions)

So, where is exactly is all this google research. To me they seem like a typical for profit company.

Schiavo Status (4, Insightful)

James_Aguilar (890772) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336098)

Besides being totally tasteless (it was), the following quote does have the redeeming feature that it illustrates why you shouldn't be discouraged.

"My take is that 1127 probably reached Schiavo status when Rob, Presotto, et al. fled west to Google."

Although the unnamed employee goes on to say that it's a nail in the coffin of the "sort of research environment Bell Labs once represented," he neglects to mention that there is still tons of work that is being done in computing science-related research all over the nation and all over the world. Although it's fine to feel sentimental, let's not go over the top with saying that Google is the "last bastion" of anything. We see the demise of Bell Labs' Unix group as a big thing because it has a lot of history; now think how many tens or hundreds of places that someday will have a lot of history are out there right now; as yet unknown, but destined to be giants in the future.

Re:we've still got Google, for now (2, Interesting)

Crixus (97721) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336246)

I agree completely. The single most important factor in research (and it can't be controlled) is SERENDIPITY.

    All areas of research must be funded, because they often yield interesting stuff not sought for. I can not express this strongly enough.

  Rich...

Re:we've still got Google, for now (1)

2short (466733) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336384)

I'm all for funding research, and I'd certainly agree many of the best products of research are not exactly whatever the original intent of that research was, but...

"All areas of research must be funded"

In the absence of infinite funds, this is impossible. If there is a dollar being spent on research, someone, somewhere has to decide to spend it on one thing and not another. Better to spend that dollar on an area of research that seems most likely to produce a sought for benefit; that area is just as likely to yield interesting stuff not sought for.

Insensitive (4, Insightful)

agm (467017) | more than 8 years ago | (#13335971)

From TFA:

"My take is that 1127 probably reached Schiavo status when Rob, Presotto, et al. fled west to Google.

That expression is a tad insensitive, don't you think?

Re:Insensitive (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13335982)

Nothing compared to what was done to her.

Re:Insensitive (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336005)

Nothing compared to what was done to her.

What? You mean kept alive longer than reasonable for herself and her parents? Yeah, that was sick

Re:Insensitive (5, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336116)

For politics, and religion is all. She was nothing but a vegtable. I feel sorry for her husband who had to be dragged through the mud by GWB, Jeb, Frist, Focus on the Family, etc. Even after it was over, Jeb tried anything that he could to make him look bad for simply doing what his wife wanted in the first place.

Personally, I would love to see him sue all of them. But I am guessing that he just wants it over with and to be away from all the idiots.

Re:Insensitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336224)

Thank you for putting it sensibly.
Too many kool aid drinkers are still denying that she was as responsive as a potato, and for the same reason.

Re:Insensitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13335991)

Nope, not at all.

Re:Insensitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13335993)

Only because you have an overblown sense of offensensitivity.

Re:Insensitive (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336004)

Yep, probably on purpose, too. Programmers aren't typically a sensitive lot.

Re:Insensitive (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336040)

Screw you!

I'm an insensitive programmer, you insensitive clod!

Re:Insensitive (2, Insightful)

Zen Punk (785385) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336010)

Well, it was a direct qoute of an employee that was interviewed, so it's important for them to include it, bad taste notwithstanding.

Re:Insensitive (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336017)

Maybe, but definetly funny. To be "Schiavo'd" would be a welcome addition to the english language, if I could only figure out a proper meaning for it.

Re:Insensitive (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336101)

My guess is it would be something like this: to finally be allowed the honor to die gracefully after being kept "alive" on life support for an inordinate amount of time without hope of recovery.

Pretty close to what's going on with 1127, so...

Re:Insensitive (-1, Offtopic)

uchi (534979) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336027)

Here is what George Carlin had to say on euphemisms, and in general the sensitivity of words to certain people: I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protest themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse. I'll give you an example of that. There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum. Can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue. Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I'll bet you if we'd of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha. I'll betcha. But. But, it didn't happen, and one of the reasons. One of the reasons is because we were using that soft language. That language that takes the life out of life. And it is a function of time. It does keep getting worse. I'll give you another example. Sometime during my life. Sometime during my life, toilet paper became bathroom tissue. I wasn't notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. Toilet paper became bathroom tissue. Sneakers became running shoes. False teeth became dental appliances. Medicine became medication. Information became directory assistance. The dump became the landfill. Car crashes became automobile accidents. Partly cloudy bacame partly sunny. Motels became motor lodges. House trailers became mobile homes. Used cars became previously owned transportation. Room service became guest-room dining. And constipation became occasional irregularity. When I was a little kid, if I got sick they wanted me to go to the hospital and see a doctor. Now they want me to go to a health maintenance organization...or a wellness center to consult a healthcare delivery professional. Poor people used to live in slums. Now the economically disadvantaged occupy substandard housing in the inner cities. And they're broke! They're broke! They don't have a negative cash-flow position. They're fucking broke! Cause a lot of them were fired. You know, fired. management wanted to curtail redundancies in the human resources area, so many people are no longer viable members of the workforce. Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It's as simple as that. The CIA doesn't kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people...or they depopulate the area. The government doesn't lie, it engages in disinformation. The pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part of it to us, do they? Never mention that part of it. And...and some of this stuff is just silly, we all know that, like on the airlines, they say want to pre- board. Well, what the hell is pre-board, what does that mean? To get on before you get on? They say they're going to pre-board those passengers in need of special assistance. Cripples! Simple honest direct language. There is no shame attached to the word cripple that I can find in any dictionary. No shame attached to it, in fact it's a word used in bible translations. Jesus healed the cripples. Doesn't take seven words to describe that condition. But we don't have any cripples in this country anymore. We have The physically challenged. Is that a grotesque enough evasion for you? How about differently abled. I've heard them called that. Differently abled! You can't even call these people handicapped anymore. They'll say, "Were not handicapped. Were handicapable!" These poor people have been bullshitted by the system into believing that if you change the name of the condition, somehow you'll change the condition. Well, hey cousin, ppsssspptttttt. Doesn't happen. Doesn't happen. We have no more deaf people in this country, hearing impaired. No ones blind anymore, partially sighted or visually impaired. We have no more stupid people. Everyone has a learning disorder...or he's minimally exceptional. How would you like to be told that about your child? "He's minimally exceptional." "Oohh, thank god for that." Psychologists actually have started calling ugly people, those with severe appearance deficits. It's getting so bad, that any day now I expect to hear a rape victim referred to as an unwilling sperm recipient. And we have no more old people in this country. No more old people. We shipped them all away, and we brought in these senior citizens. Isn't that a typically American twentieth century phrase? Bloodless, lifeless, no pulse in one of them. A senior citizen. But I've accepted that one, I've come to terms with it. I know it's to stay. We'll never get rid of it. That's what they're going to be called, so I'll relax on that, but the one I do resist. The one I keep resisting is when they look at an old guy and they'll say, "Look at him Dan! He's ninety years young." Imagine the fear of aging that reveals. To not even be able to use the word "old" to describe somebody. To have to use an antonym. And fear of aging is natural. It's universal. Isn't it? We all have that. No one wants to get old. No one wants to die, but we do! So we bullshit ourselves. I started bullshitting myself when I got to my forties. As soon as I got into my forties I'd look in the mirror and I'd say, "well, I...I guess I'm getting...older." Older sounds a little better than old doesn't it? Sounds like it might even last a little longer. Bullshit, I'm getting old! And it's okay, because thanks to our fear of death in this country, I won't have to die...I'll pass away. Or I'll expire like a magazine subscription. If it happens in the hospital, they'll call it a terminal episode. The insurance company will refer to it as negative patient-care outcome. And if it's the result of malpractice, they'll say it was a therapeutic misadventure. I'm telling you, some of this language makes me want to vomit. Well, maybe not vomit. Makes me want to engage in an involuntary personal protein spill.

Finally Schiavo Status!?!!! (0)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336033)

TFA means REAL ULTIMATE POWER [mintruth.com] status right?

Re:Finally Schiavo Status!?!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336088)

I love you, dude!

I guess... (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336048)

they didn't want to say that it's as dead as *BSD... /rimshot

Re:I guess... (1)

aergern (127031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336155)

Hmm.. BSD doesn't seem too dead since Apple sold 2 MILLION units of it's BSD in May. :)

BSD seems to be doing just fine in it's various forms. ;)

Re:I guess... (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336245)

With a UID that low I'm suprised at your response. I wasn't trying to troll, just joke around.

To who? (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336065)

Who was it insensitive to?

Re:Insensitive (3, Funny)

endersdouble (719120) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336188)

Would you like someone to call the waaaaaambulance?

Re:Insensitive (4, Funny)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336362)

From TFA:

"My take is that 1127 probably reached Schiavo status when Rob, Presotto, et al. fled west to Google.

That expression is a tad insensitive, don't you think?

Yes, it is insensitive. He should have said "My take is that 1127 probably reached George W. Bush status when Rob, Presotto, et al. fled west to Google.

fuck ya (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13335974)

fuck ya

Linux Labs. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13335990)

"The article provides an interesting "where are they now?" list of the original authors of Unix."

They've joined Linco. Developing cutting-edge technology to put into a commodity OS. With Linus as Director.

Re:Linux Labs. (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336094)

That's depressing as hell to think about.

The real question is (5, Funny)

igny (716218) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336007)

What is cooking at Department # 1337.

Re:The real question is (5, Funny)

paulius_g (808556) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336031)

They're just a bunch of 14 year olds playing Counter-Strike and "pwning n00bs".

Very complicated stuff, I must admit.

And all the nerds sing (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336018)

"Goodbye Dep. 1127 and thank you for all the code"

Thank you 1127 :)

Re:And all the nerds sing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336201)

And along those lines,

"So long, and thanks for all the C."

(with apologies to D.N.A.)

Re:And all the nerds sing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336319)

So Unix really is dead?

Re:And all the nerds sing (1)

msully4321 (816359) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336361)

No, just BSD (Netcraft confirms it).

Dennis is on my bookshelf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336020)

Just opened 'the C programming language' to reference something. Nuf said...

Serious question... (-1, Flamebait)

pVoid (607584) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336049)

I'm curious to know what kind of research they did on Unix. To me, a kernel or OS is more about engineering than research. The word research conjures up Fourier Transforms in my mind, not round-robbin scheduler implementations.

Anyone have any concrete examples of research that was done at Bell that went into UNIX as a system?

Re:Serious question... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336073)

dude, they wrote UNIX. Buy a clue (or some Ritchie/Kernighan editions) and get back to installing your nightly windoze patches.

Re:Serious question... (5, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336190)

Does the invention of the entire C programming language count?

Serious damage... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336325)

Considering all the damage that C/C++ has done. I wouldn't be bragging on that.

Re:Serious question... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336332)

A few things come to mind

1) Making the command interpreter a user level process instead of an integral part of the kernel.

2) Treating all files as simple streams of data. Mainframes of the day that I've had experience with all forced some type of record format on files.

3) Making everything visible to the sytem as a file(file systems, devices, message queues). On other systems these are handled via special reserved words understood by the command interpreter or system.

4) Pipes between processes.

5) The C programming language itself.

Much of this seems like common sense today, but they were new ideas around 1970. Some of them were probably taken from other research operating sytems of the time and reimplemented as software patents were'nt the problem they are today.

Good times (5, Interesting)

saddino (183491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336066)

I worked at Bell Labs in Murray Hill from 1985 through 1989, and though I did not work in Dept 1127, I did get the amazing chance to see what Bell Labs was all about: the incredible, vibrant home to tremendously talented scientists from the UNIX gurus to the low temperature physics gods. As a young high school and then college student, aspiring to join their ranks full time, I was mesmerized by the environment where a 2pm coffee break could evolve into a deep discussion of networking theory and then reflect sincerely on the goings-on in the world. Bell Labs was a magical place, and hopefully, the seeds of similar pure research incubators are being sewn in today's tech powerhouses such as Google.

Re:Good times (4, Insightful)

blackbear (587044) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336209)

I've had more good ideas from conversations on long coffee breaks than I care to remember. And they usually saved the company money, or fixed something. The ability to get away from a problem and take your mind productively in another direction has, for me, usually been a function of having talented and intelligent people around to share ideas with.

These days, if you're seen having a conversation of longer than two minutes you start to get the attention of management. Geeks aren't like everyone else, and they aren't motivated in the usual ways or by the usual things.

The effort now, seems to be to put armies of non-geeks at the keyboard, hoping that they can make up with numbers and procedures what they lack in talent. I just hope that this one doesn't turn out like The Celts vs. The Romans.

Hey! Maybe we should sacrifice a secretary to the god of system stability. Just be sure to start the fire with a printout of the last core dump.

Re:Good times (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336309)

Don't sacrifice the secretaries, they're actually useful. Use an MBA instead. =]

Re:Good times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336229)

Google is the first company I thought of when I saw this. They hire a lot of the best minds to create new things. Bell Labs did the same thing during their time--but I have the feeling that success eventually leads to stagnation.

Don't forget what Bell Labs have done. We have a lot to thank them for. Hopefully Google will have given us as much when they stop producing cool tech.

Re:Good times (2, Interesting)

triple6 (50069) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336386)

I was lucky enough to work in Building 2 for a couple of years and am happy to have been in Murray Hill at all. It was as magical a place as everyone says. Just being around so many great thinkers made me feel smarter too. I'll certainly miss it. (I wonder if the pjw's xface made of magnets still appears at the top of Stair 8)

Great contributions made (3, Insightful)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336072)

Its a shame to see this department go, given the great contributions made by it to the state of modern operating systems. Of course Unix lives on in other forms, and its testament to the strength of the operating system that its free workalikes and variants have been as rampantly successful in developing and thriving. I can't help but wonder whether Plan 9 is affected at all by the demise..

Re:Great contributions made (4, Insightful)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336147)

The wiki at the Plan 9 website [bell-labs.com] has activity as recently as August 14 of this year, so I'd say that it still has a pulse.

Re:Great contributions made (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336196)

I can't help but wonder whether Plan 9 is affected at all by the demise.

If I could talk to the management who decided to shut down the department, I'd say to them, "You see? You see? Your stupid minds. Stupid. Stupid."

Another name to add to the list... (4, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336081)

Steve Johnson [wikipedia.org] - a 20 year veteran of Bell Labs, author of yacc, lint and the pcc, and former president of USENIX [usenix.org] now works at Mathworks [mathworks.com] .

I had the good fortune of meeting the gentleman when I interviewed with Mathworks a couple of years ago. I was taken aback by his humility, and the poor guy was embarrassed when I requested his autograph :) He has a former license plate in his office that reads "YACCMAN".

Re:Another name to add to the list... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336211)

You asked for an autograph at an interview? I assume you didn't the job.

Re:Another name to add to the list... (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336237)

Yes I did that and you're right I didn't get the job.

I can't help the nostalgy (2, Insightful)

darthgnu (866920) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336093)

Great job guys, your legacy shall be remembered. Hopefully, history will learn that creating barriers to knowledge only leads to trouble. I see FS/OSS as the future, but K&R shall be remebered.

Let's us not forget (3, Informative)

stox (131684) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336103)

Joe Ossanna and Lee McMahon. Both made significant contributions which made UNIX, as we know it today, possible.

Another important contributor, Michael Lesk, is currently on the faculty at Rutgers University.

I'm sure there are many more that deserve recognition.

Re:Let's us not forget (1)

King Babar (19862) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336341)

Joe Ossanna and Lee McMahon. Both made significant contributions which made UNIX, as we know it today, possible.

By all means we should not forget them. And, while I know that you know this, other Slashdot readers might not know that both of these amazing men are dead, having died far too young. Sigh...there are days when I feel I am the last person on the planet to have used troff, Scribe, and LaTeX. And troff started the whole game.

So long, Unix Neck Beards... (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336119)

Avast, we knew ye well! ARRRrrrggghhh...

Well, at least as well as the product you developed, maintained, improved, and sent off to blossom into what it is today.

"Thanks for all the fish!" indeed!

about freakin' time (-1, Troll)

SiO2 (124860) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336150)

As Bob Metcalfe noted recently, *nix is 60's technology. Let's move on, kids.

SiO2

Re:about freakin' time (2, Insightful)

fishlet (93611) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336194)

It's a troll... but I just gotta bite.
A chair is ancient technology, but I'm happy to be sitting in one as I read slashdot today. Not all things are wrong just because they are old.

Re:about freakin' time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336291)

How about fire and the wheel, guys? Isn't it about time those hippies give up that ancient technology and start using something new?

Re:about freakin' time (2, Insightful)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336337)

Oh shit! Calculus has roots going back like a few millenium (Ancient Egyptians), we better get rid of that stuff quickly! Let's move on, kids.
Regards,
Steve

Re:about freakin' time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336354)

Just because its old doesn't mean that it is useless.

1) How old is the combustion engine? Your still using it.
2) Wood? Hoses are still being constructed with it.
3) Electricity? Your still using it.
4) Sun light? You don't say. Still using it?

What did they do that B[erkeley]SD guys didn't do? (1)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336153)

What were the contributions of the AT&T guys to Unix? I thought it was the BSD guys who pushed it forward. I don't mean to attack AT&T. The initial creation of Unix and the other stuff they've done over the years has been great.

But when it comes to the stuff that gets used, I have a hard time remembering anything that came out of AT&T that I use. Now I would guess the NetBSD/FreeBSD/OpenBSD people are the ones doing state-of-the-art stuff, with Unix.

Similarly, the BSD people must have had the same reaction, when they looked at the kernel, realised there were about 6 original AT&T files --- and you know the rest of the story.

Re:What did they do that B[erkeley]SD guys didn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336215)

But when it comes to the stuff that gets used, I have a hard time remembering anything that came out of AT&T that I use.

C perhaps?

Re:What did they do that B[erkeley]SD guys didn't (4, Insightful)

blackbear (587044) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336296)

Right. I mean Newton just invented calculus. Einstein really pushed it forward and did things with it. Not to knock Newton, since calculus is a really big deal. And his work with harmonic motion was great.

But the stuff you really think about and use, like time dialation, that was all Einstein. And Newtonion Mechanics is hardly state of the art.

Einstein, Heisenberg, and others must have looked back and thought; "What did you really contribute, Newton? You didn't even have the concept of light having a finite speed."

No one ever stood on the shoulders of giant before, right?

Remember (2, Interesting)

pcnetworx1 (873075) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336178)

If Bell can fall, then this event only proves that Google will someday fall. It is all just a great progression of humanity. And hopefully before that fall a little more technology will come to push mankind farther. Good job Department 1127!

Doug McIlroy (2, Interesting)

theoddball (665938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336183)

Hell of a guy, and a prof who's still teaching undergrads. Bell Labs is where he did his best work, but he's still a very, very sharp guy.

I mean, there's something to be said for learning data structures and operating systems from a guy who helped invent the idea of pipes.

McIlroy's homepage [dartmouth.edu] .

Re:Doug McIlroy (1)

taloobie (537189) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336256)

Yeah, it's like when I learned to fry chicken from the founder of Chicken Plus in Miami. You just can't get the same experience from a 2nd gen teacher.

Re:Doug McIlroy (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336260)

Hell of a guy, and a prof who's still teaching undergrads.

      Eww. Whatever for? Undergrads don't deserve to be taught. The little parasites. All they think about is sex and beer. They're not interested in learning at all. What a waste of time. Come back in 4 years, I'm busy. Let me finish my research.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......

This is news? (-1, Redundant)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336191)

Don't you kno *NIX has been dieing for years :)

not an AT&T department (4, Informative)

anothy (83176) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336198)

just for clarity, there hasn't been an AT&T department 1127 since 1996; when Lucent split off, 1127, along with the rest of Bell Labs, went with them. this is a Lucent re-org.

IBM still does research.... (3, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336251)

Although IBM http://www.research.ibm.com/ [ibm.com] may be out of the disk drive business, they are still working on it. Take a look at the Almaden Research Center in San Jose http://www.almaden.ibm.com/ [ibm.com] still going strong after all these years.

Re:IBM still does research.... (2, Informative)

TollBooth (80094) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336375)

Yeah, why does IBM get the shaft. I am working at that very site as an intern in datamining. There are quite a bit chemists and physicists there that do pure research still. While there are groups focused on product deployment, IBM still has the resources to do research(otherwise I wouldn't be interested). And what's with everyone singing Google's praises? They're just trying to find the next product, not entirely new fields that are only possible through research. I read this article recently from IBM's Think magazine from 1936, it was by the director of Research at GM. It was eery how relevant it was if you just replaced the technologies mentioned. The basic jist was that it made the writer mad when people said research wasn't necessary and was just looking at a way to replace people with technology. He said that this was ridiculous because of the entirely new industries that were created because of research(telegram, telephone, cars). He also mentioned that people who say that everything has been invented, know that it's been said before, but this time is different. I just think that part is great because it was 1936. To me it seems like IBM is one of the few major corporations looking ahead further than the current quarter's earnings.

Diminishing Talent Pool? (2, Interesting)

ArticleI (842868) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336272)

It seems like they would have a hard time attracting the talent to keep the group open. My dad, an 18 year Bell Labs veteran, left Telcordia /Bellcore/Bell Labs five years ago. The downturn in the tech industry forced many others to leave for more lucrative jobs while they were still available. Two of the math/CS teachers at my old high school were from Bell, for instance.

Netcraft Confirms it ... Dept. 1127, dead at 36 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336273)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Re:Netcraft Confirms it ... Dept. 1127, dead at 36 (0, Offtopic)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336380)

See now that IS news for nerds, despite being offtopic, and unlike the latest Google hype.

      I can't find it anywhere else yet, but I assume you wouldn't make something like this up. Poor guy. We will miss him! (removes tinfoil hat temporarily)

Where are they now? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336317)

Speaking of which, what happened to Axel Rose? Does anyone know?

My brother was a Guns'n'Roses fan - well he always said they only had one and a half albums that were any good.

Anyway, what's Axel Rose doing now? Does he read slashdot?! Hi Ax!

Re:Where are they now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336401)

He is probably in bed in Indiana, asleep . Where we all should be. Good night.

Lucent, not AT&T (1)

LazyBoy (128384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336331)

Bell Labs is part of Lucent, not AT&T. The article is about the demise of a Lucent department.

Pencil, pen and desk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13336357)

Look for the pencils, pens and desk and chances are you will find the people still there. I wish people who wrote stories here got carded first ! How many times has the Unix lab already folded in the past ? Perhaps if you knew history you would better understand the present. I know they are still around and they are working on DOD. Just so you think economics matters they pretend to go dormant.

Like it or not, Microsoft does a lot of research. (2, Informative)

Thornkin (93548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13336376)

Bell labs, DEC, and Xerox PARC may be things of the past, but Microsoft is funding a lot of general research today. This is not product R&D but basic research of the sort done at many of the big companies of the past. Check out their website [microsoft.com] for a list of some current topics. They employ over 700 people doing everything from pure algorithms to graphics to networking.
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