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Author Topic: Creators Admit: UNIX, C Hoax!  (Read 2724 times)
Posts: 4599

« on: December 31, 2004, 04:34:54 AM »

Quote from: "4Real-News"

In an announcement that has stunned the computer industry, Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan admitted that the Unix operating system and C programming language created by them is an elaborate April Fools prank kept alive for over 20 years. Speaking at the recent UnixWorld Software Development Forum, Thompson revealed the following:
Quote from: "Ken Thompson"
In 1969, AT&T had just terminated their work with the GE/Honeywell/AT&T Multics project. Brian and I had just started working with an early release of Pascal from Professor Nichlaus Wirth's ETH labs in Switzerland and we were impressed with its elegant simplicity and power. Dennis had just finished reading 'Bored of the Rings', a hilarious National Lampoon parody of the great Tolkien 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. As a lark, we decided to do parodies of the Multics environment and Pascal. Dennis and I were responsible for the operating environment. We looked at Multics and designed the new system to be as complex and cryptic as possible to maximize casual users' frustration levels, calling it Unix as a parody of Multics, as well as other more risque allusions. Then Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped version of Pascal, called 'A'. When we found others were actually trying to create real programs with A, we quickly added additional cryptic features and evolved into B, BCPL and finally C. We stopped when we got a clean compile on the following syntax:

To think that modern programmers would try to use a language that allowed such a statement was beyond our comprehension! We actually thought of selling this to the Soviets to set their computer science progress back 20 or more years. Imagine our surprise when AT&T and other US corporations actually began trying to use Unix and C! It has taken them 20 years to develop enough expertise to generate even marginally useful applications using this 1960's technological parody, but we are impressed with the tenacity (if not common sense) of the general Unix and C programmer. In any event, Brian, Dennis and I have been working exclusively in Pascal on the Apple Macintosh for the past few years and feel really guilty about the chaos, confusion and truly bad programming that have resulted from our silly prank so long ago.

Major Unix and C vendors and customers, including AT&T, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, GTE, NCR, and DEC have refused comment at this time. Borland International, a leading vendor of Pascal and C tools, including the popular Turbo Pascal, Turbo C and Turbo C++, stated they had suspected this for a number of years and would continue to enhance their Pascal products and halt further efforts to develop C. An IBM spokesman broke into uncontrolled laughter and had to postpone a hastily convened news conference concerning the fate of the RS-6000, merely stating 'VM will be available Real Soon Now'. In a cryptic statement, Professor Wirth of the ETH institute and father of the Pascal, Modula 2 and Oberon structured languages, merely stated that P. T. Barnum was correct.

In a related late-breaking story, usually reliable sources are stating that a similar confession may be forthcoming from William Gates concerning the MS-DOS and Windows operating environments. And IBM spokesman have begun denying that the Virtual Machine (VM) product is an internal prank gone awry.

Baha, in your face Zealots, in your face!

FB To rule all! Cheesy  :rotfl:
Posts: 8244

« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2004, 11:23:39 AM »

Man, that was "news" 10 years ago.

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Posts: 3655

« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2004, 11:53:53 AM »


I'd knock on wood, but my desk is particle board.
Posts: 1536

« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2004, 01:33:51 PM »

Quote from: "adosorken"

you always have something interesting to say

the mind is a beautiful thing, use it and make the world a more beautiful place.
Been there, done that
Posts: 1025

« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2004, 02:10:27 PM »

I like potatoes because even if they're green you can still eat them.

And  I like BASIC because even though it's simple you can still program in it.


One night I had a dream where I was breaking balls.  The next morning, BALLSBREAKER was born.

Quote from: "Haye, Phillip J."
 Excellent.  Now you can have things without paying for them.

~-_-Status Report-_-~
Engine: 94%
Graphics: 95%
Sound: 100%
A Severe Error has crippled BB2 for the time being... I have to figure it out, but until then you won't see much of it Sad.
Posts: 4599

« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2004, 04:00:54 PM »

I didnt have internet 10 years, ago, hell, i wasnt even interessted in computers 10 years ago.

It's news for me, and it's fun.
Posts: 4550

« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2004, 04:02:32 PM »

ewww....stale news :roll:

mech, adosorken always has something to "show" rather than "say" :roll:
Posts: 2964

« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2004, 04:08:50 PM »

I semiheard of this before but never heard the real story. Heh

[size=10]Back by popular demand!
I will byte and nibble you bit by bit until nothing remains but crumbs.[/size]
Posts: 8244

« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2004, 04:18:57 PM »

MS BASIC was stolen, MS DOS was half stolen, Windows was a rip-off, MS Internet Explorer was a rip-off... and we all use many stuff listed before. So, who cares about the origins? Wink

SCUMM (the band) on Myspace!
ComputerEmuzone Games Studio
underBASIC, homegrown musicians
Been there, done that
Posts: 1025

« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2004, 09:45:10 PM »

Bill Gates is actually an Alien.

Now that I said that, will you people believe it?  Do you believe everything you hear?   I can't imagine someone going to the lengths of making Unix, A, B, and C just as an "April fool's joke."   I want to meet them, so I can say "I know the nerdiest people ever to walk the earth."


One night I had a dream where I was breaking balls.  The next morning, BALLSBREAKER was born.

Quote from: "Haye, Phillip J."
 Excellent.  Now you can have things without paying for them.

~-_-Status Report-_-~
Engine: 94%
Graphics: 95%
Sound: 100%
A Severe Error has crippled BB2 for the time being... I have to figure it out, but until then you won't see much of it Sad.
Posts: 1553

« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2004, 09:56:16 PM »

I like LEGOs...

Quote from: "Allegro humor page"
The truth about C++ revealed

  Don't know if this is true or not... but it's funny either way.

  On the 1st of January, 1998, Bjarne Stroustrup gave an interview
to the IEEE's 'Computer' magazine.

  Naturally, the editors thought he would be giving a retrospective
view of seven years of object-oriented design, using the language
he created.
  By the end of the interview, the interviewer got more than he had
bargained for and, subsequently, the editor decided to suppress its
contents, 'for the good of the industry' but, as with many of these
things, there was a leak.

Here is a complete transcript of what was was said, unedited, and
unrehearsed, so it isn't as neat as planned interviews.

You will find it interesting...

Interviewer: Well, it's been a few years since you changed the world
of software design, how does it feel, looking back?

Stroustrup: Actually, I was thinking about those days, just before
you arrived. Do you remember?  Everyone was writing 'C' and, the
trouble was, they were pretty damn good at it. Universities got
pretty good at teaching it, too. They were turning out competent
 - I stress the word 'competent' - graduates at a phenomenal rate.
That's what caused the problem.

Interviewer: Problem?

Stroustrup: Yes, problem. Remember when everyone wrote Cobol?

Interviewer: Of course, I did too

Stroustrup: Well, in the beginning, these guys were like demi-gods.
Their salaries were high, and they were treated like royalty.

Interviewer: Those were the days, eh?

Stroustrup: Right. So what happened? IBM got sick of it, and invested
millions in training programmers, till they were a dime a dozen.

Interviewer: That's why I got out. Salaries dropped within a year, to
the point where being a journalist actually paid better.

Stroustrup: Exactly. Well, the same happened with 'C' programmers.

Interviewer: I see, but what's the point?

Stroustrup: Well, one day, when I was sitting in my office, I thought
of this little scheme, which would redress the balance a little. I
thought 'I wonder what would happen, if there were a language so
complicated, so difficult to learn, that nobody would ever be able
to swamp the market with programmers?  Actually, I got some of the
ideas from X10, you know, X windows. That was such a bitch of a
graphics system, that it only just ran on those Sun 3/60 things.
They had all the ingredients for what I wanted. A really ridiculously
complex syntax, obscure functions, and pseudo-OO structure. Even now,
nobody writes raw X-windows code. Motif is the only way to go if you
want to retain your sanity.

Interviewer: You're kidding...?

Stroustrup: Not a bit of it. In fact, there was another problem. Unix
was written in 'C', which meant that any 'C' programmer could very
easily become a systems programmer. Remember what a mainframe systems
programmer used to earn?

Interviewer: You bet I do, that's what I used to do.

Stroustrup: OK, so this new language had to divorce itself from Unix,
by hiding all the system calls that bound the two together so nicely.
This would enable guys who only knew about DOS to earn a decent living

Interviewer: I don't believe you said that...

Stroustrup: Well, it's been long enough, now, and I believe most people
have figured out for themselves that C++ is a waste of time but, I must
say, it's taken them a lot longer than I thought it would.

Interviewer: So how exactly did you do it?

Stroustrup: It was only supposed to be a joke, I never thought people
would take the book seriously. Anyone with half a brain can see that
object-oriented programming is counter-intuitive, illogical and

Interviewer: What?

Stroustrup: And as for 're-useable code' - when did you ever hear of
a company re-using its code?

Interviewer: Well, never, actually, but...

Stroustrup: There you are then. Mind you, a few tried, in the early
days. There was this Oregon company - Mentor Graphics, I think they
were called - really caught a cold trying to rewrite everything in
C++ in about '90 or '91. I felt sorry for them really, but I thought
people would learn from their mistakes.

Interviewer: Obviously, they didn't?

Stroustrup: Not in the slightest. Trouble is, most companies hush-up
all their major blunders, and explaining a $30 million loss to the
shareholders would have been difficult. Give them their due, though,
they made it work in the end.

Interviewer: They did?  Well, there you are then, it proves O-O works.

Stroustrup: Well, almost. The executable was so huge, it took five
minutes to load, on an HP workstation, with 128MB of RAM. Then it ran
like treacle. Actually, I thought this would be a major stumbling-block,
and I'd get found out within a week, but nobody cared. Sun and HP were
only too glad to sell enormously powerful boxes, with huge resources
just to run trivial programs. You know, when we had our first C++
compiler, at AT&T, I compiled 'Hello World', and couldn't believe
the size of the executable. 2.1MB

Interviewer: What? Well, compilers have come a long way, since then.

Stroustrup: They have?  Try it on the latest version of g++ - you won't
get much change out of half a megabyte. Also, there are several quite
recent examples for you, from all over the world. British Telecom had
a major disaster on their hands but, luckily, managed to scrap the
whole thing and start again. They were luckier than Australian Telecom.
Now I hear that Siemens is building a dinosaur, and getting more and
more worried as the size of the hardware gets bigger, to accommodate
the executables. Isn't multiple inheritance a joy?

Interviewer: Yes, but C++ is basically a sound language.

Stroustrup: You really believe that, don't you?  Have you ever
sat down and worked on a C++ project?  Here's what happens: First,
I've put in enough pitfalls to make sure that only the most trivial
projects will work first time. Take operator overloading. At the end
of the project, almost every module has it, usually, because guys
feel they really should do it, as it was in their training course.
The same operator then means something totally different in every
module. Try pulling that lot together, when you have a hundred or
so modules. And as for data hiding. God, I sometimes can't help
laughing when I hear about the problems companies have making their
modules talk to each other. I think the word 'synergistic' was
specially invented to twist the knife in a project manager's ribs.

Interviewer: I have to say, I'm beginning to be quite appalled at
all this. You say you did it to raise programmers' salaries? That's

Stroustrup: Not really. Everyone has a choice. I didn't expect the
thing to get so much out of hand. Anyway, I basically succeeded.
C++ is dying off now, but programmers still get high salaries -
especially those poor devils who have to maintain all this crap.
You do realise, it's impossible to maintain a large C++ software
module if you didn't actually write it?

Interviewer: How come?

Stroustrup: You are out of touch, aren't you?  Remember the typedef?

Interviewer: Yes, of course.

Stroustrup: Remember how long it took to grope through the header files
only to find that 'RoofRaised' was a double precision number?  Well,
imagine how long it takes to find all the implicit typedefs in all
the Classes in a major project.

Interviewer: So how do you reckon you've succeeded?

Stroustrup: Remember the length of the average-sized 'C' project?
About 6 months. Not nearly long enough for a guy with a wife and
kids to earn enough to have a decent standard of living. Take the
same project, design it in C++ and what do you get?  I'll tell you.
One to two years. Isn't that great? All that job security, just
through one mistake of judgement. And another thing. The universities
haven't been teaching 'C' for such a long time, there's now a shortage
of decent 'C' programmers. Especially those who know anything about
Unix systems programming. How many guys would know what to do with
'malloc', when they've used 'new' all these years - and never bothered
to check the return code. In fact, most C++ programmers throw away their
return codes. Whatever happened to good ol' '-1'?  At least you knew you
had an error, without bogging the thing down in all that 'throw' 'catch'
'try' stuff.

Interviewer: But, surely, inheritance does save a lot of time?

Stroustrup: Does it? Have you ever noticed the difference between a
'C' project plan, and a C++ project plan?  The planning stage for a
C++ project is three times as long. Precisely to make sure that
everything which should be inherited is, and what shouldn't isn't.
Then, they still get it wrong. Whoever heard of memory leaks in a
'C' program?  Now finding them is a major industry. Most companies
give up, and send the product out, knowing it leaks like a sieve,
simply to avoid the expense of tracking them all down.

Interviewer: There are tools...

Stroustrup: Most of which were written in C++.

Interviewer: If we publish this, you'll probably get lynched, you
do realise that?

Stroustrup: I doubt it. As I said, C++ is way past its peak now, and
no company in its right mind would start a C++ project without a pilot
trial. That should convince them that it's the road to disaster. If not,
they deserve all they get. You know, I tried to convince Dennis Ritchie
to rewrite Unix in C++.

Interviewer: Oh my God. What did he say?

Stroustrup: Well, luckily, he has a good sense of humor. I think both
he and Brian figured out what I was doing, in the early days, but never
let on.  He said he'd help me write a C++ version of DOS, if I was

Interviewer: Were you?

Stroustrup: Actually, I did write DOS in C++, I'll give you a demo
when we're through. I have it running on a Sparc 20 in the computer
room.  Goes like a rocket on 4 CPU's, and only takes up 70 megs of

Interviewer: What's it like on a PC?

Stroustrup: Now you're kidding. Haven't you ever seen Windows '95?
I think of that as my biggest success. Nearly blew the game before
I was ready, though.

Interviewer: You know, that idea of a Unix++ has really got me
thinking. Somewhere out there, there's a guy going to try it.

Stroustrup: Not after they read this interview.

Interviewer: I'm sorry, but I don't see us being able to publish
any of this.

Stroustrup: But it's the story of the century. I only want to be
remembered by my fellow programmers, for what I've done for them.
You know how much a C++ guy can get these days?

Interviewer: Last I heard, a really top guy is worth $70-$80 an hour.

Stroustrup: See? And I bet he earns it. Keeping track of all the
gotchas I put into C++ is no easy job. And, as I said before, every
C++ programmer feels bound by some mystic promise to use every damn
element of the language on every project. Actually, that really annoys
me sometimes, even though it serves my original purpose. I almost like
the language after all this time.

Interviewer: You mean you didn't before?

Stroustrup: Hated it. It even looks clumsy, don't you agree? But when
the book royalties started to come in... well, you get the picture.

Interviewer:  Just a minute. What about references?  You must admit,
you improved on 'C' pointers.

Stroustrup: Hmm. I've always wondered about that. Originally, I
thought I had. Then, one day I was discussing this with a guy who'd
written C++ from the beginning. He said he could never remember
whether his variables were referenced or dereferenced, so he always
used pointers. He said the little asterisk always reminded him.

Interviewer: Well, at this point, I usually say 'thank you very much'
but it hardly seems adequate.

Stroustrup: Promise me you'll publish this. My conscience is getting
the better of me these days.

Interviewer: I'll let you know, but I think I know what my editor
will say.

Stroustrup: Who'd believe it anyway? Although, can you send me a
copy of that tape?

Interviewer: I can do that.
Been there, done that
Posts: 1087

« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2004, 10:03:02 PM »

maybe the artical is an april fool's joke? where did you find it?
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