Printers and software #programming #free software

🕟︎ - 2022-09-24

It is remarkable how often printers¹ and high² quality³ output appear in the history of hacking (programming creatively) and free/open source software.

Here is the latest story I stumbled upon on The Unix Heritage Society (TUHS) mailing list, by Rob Pike:

Everyone was supposed to be working on their thesis and we had spent the weekend hacking. I was about to be in serious trouble for distracting the graduate students. But then he saw the output and completely changed his tune: "Can I use this to print out my new grant proposal?"

For context, consider this: I used the system for my 4th year optics project report. The professor was furious with me for copying someone's work. He did not believe it possible to create output like that (and to be fair, it wasn't possible almost anywhere else). I had to take him to the lab and show him how I did it before he would let me pass the course.

The Berkeley Distribution took the code and integrated it, removing the original copyright notice(!)

I didn't care so much about losing credit for the code, but the idea was 100% mine, and for a young punk the loss of credit was upsetting.

Read the full email: Re: Early BSD license thread

I guess making good output on paper was one of the first Unix/computer killer applications.

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