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Unix from Lispm. [was Symbolics prices (not only in Europe)]
Date: Wed, 4 Sep 1991 08:42 EDT
From: rwk@Crl.dec.com (Robert W. Kerns)
Date: Tue, 3 Sep 1991 22:38-0000
From: email@example.com (Peter Paine)
But ... (vainly attempting to pass the buck) a certain Phil Greenspun
came over to the UK to have a hack on our 3600 in about 1983. It was his
assertion that the original intention had been to have a wee unix
processor available in the 3600 console.
"Intention" is much too strong a word. However, the idea was certainly
discussed. Mostly it was in jest at the high degree of overkill involved,
but people did discuss what one might DO with a unix in ones' console.
And it's not too far-fetched an idea. The AT&T BLIT terminal runs a
multitasking OS (it permits the host to download code to run in a
window), and I'll bet most X terminals do. These OSes are probably more
like Minix and Genera -- multitasking in a single address space, with a
simple, round-robin scheduler -- than full-blown Unix.
The hardest part would have been doing anything useful with the limited
amount of RAM that you'd have in the console. And the utility of a
powerful console processor is lower in the Lispm case than the above
examples. In those cases, the connection between the terminal and the
host is much slower than between a Lispm console and its host, so it's
useful to move autonomous processing to the other end of the wire.