Multics > People > Stories
05 Feb 2024

Organick's Book

Multics Close ⊗

Peter Flass

Elliott Organick's 1972 The Multics System: An Examination of its Structure (ISBN 0-262-15012-3) is no longer available from MIT Press.

The price is $61.75 for a printed copy including postage in the US, or $29 for PDF - presumably TIFF images and therefore not searchable. This compares favorably to prices of used copies I've seen quoted in the $130 range.

The printed version is laid out two-up on landscape 8.5 x 11 paper, two-sided, and bound with somewhat heavier cardboard covers. This is a copy of an original in the Barker library and has library stamps and minor markings.

It's not ideal, but it's certainly better than not having a copy or trying to xerox it myself. MIT already had it scanned, so I'd suspect mine wasn't the first request for it.

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who gets the PDF version on whether it's the same layout, what the file size is, etc.

Mail from Dan'l Miller

On Sat, 12 Jul 2003, Dan'l Miller replied:

Recently I ordered and received a PDF copy of Elliot I. Organick's The Multics System: An Examination of its Structure.

The PDF file is 37,538,320 bytes in length (approximately 37.5 megabytes [MB] or 35.8 mebibytes [MiB], using IEC 60027-2 standard units). As another measure of the book's size, it is 392 printed pages scanned on 207 PDF pages. The layout is two printed pages per PDF page, turned counter-clockwise, requiring a clockwise turn of 90 degrees in a PDF viewer to read properly. Both the size and the orientation (as well as slightly sluggish page-painting time) indicate that the file is composed of bichromatic TIFF files.

The PDF page-set begins with the interior title page-leaf. No cover or fly-leaf pages are included. The following 7 most-likely-unique features of the printed copy from which the PDF is derived may assist you in determining the pedigree of your printed copy.

  1. On the title page the "O" of Organick is double underlined in handwritten fashion as is typical of librarians during cataloging. On the copyright page, the following LoC-classification system data is handwritten in the upper half of the page, again as typical of LoC-system librarians:
  2. Also on the copyright page, the following pair of less-well-known(-to-me) numbers is handwritten to the right of the LoC author information:
  3. Also on the copyright page, the following is rubber stamped:
          "Barker Engineering Library"
          (in an ellipse) MASS. INST. TECH.
          MAY 16 1972
  4. On the first page of the contents (printed page v, PDF page 2 top/right column), the following apparently is handwritten: V00652, but the tops of each character are cut off.
  5. On printed page 3 (PDF page 12 top/right column) a curved line was handwritten to the left of section 1.1.1's heading, apparently as some reader's note.
  6. On printed page 5 (PDF page 13 top/right column) a curved line was handwritten to the left of section's heading, apparently as some reader's note.
  7. On printed page 6 (PDF page 14 bottom/left column) three check-marks were handwritten to the left of each of sections, 1.2.4, and 1.2.5, apparently as some reader's note. Also on this page is another check-mark at the upper left corner of Figure 1.1's core-memory bounding box. Also between the lower edge of the core-memory bounding box an arrow from Figure 1.1 title's "A process" points to a handwritten note in International Phonetic Alphabet "/dI 'pIkt/ v." followed by two Chinese characters, which presumably comprise the Chinese translation of the verb "depict", a conjugation of which appears early in Figure 1.1's printed explanatory paragraphs.

From that point forward the note-taking reader either refrained from marking that printed copy very much more, or ceased reading that copy, or my memory fades concerning any more handwritten markings as I read the remainder of the book.

I hope that these most-likely-unique marks aid you in deciding whether the PDF form is the master image from which your paper copy was printed by the MIT library's out-of-print service.

[Peter Flass confirms that his copy matches the PDF's markings]

Mail from Jeffrey H. Johnson

On Sep 6, 2021, at 10:35 PM, Jeff Johnson wrote:

I don't know if you are aware of the situation with the Organick Multics book. MIT Press no longer distributes this book in any form and it has gone out of print. Within the last year, the prices for used copies have skyrocketed with some selling for more than $1000. As of this writing, Amazon is selling well-used copies second hand ... for $300-$500.

Avalable Online from the Internet Archive

As of Feb 5, 2024, THVV wrote:

A friend at Google asked if I could put them in touch with the Subsidiary Rights Manager at MIT Press. I did. That person replied that Organick's book had been uploaded to The Internet Archive. If you visit The Internet Archive page for Organick's book, there is no way to just get a PDF of the book. Clicking the link above gets you a page at with a reader, but all the pages say "limited preview -- log in to see the book" and there is a button to "log in and borrow, renewable every hour pending availability". The page also says "EPUB and PDF access not available for this item." So you can't search the text.

15 Nov 2001, updated 15 Jul 2003, 15 Sept 2004, 07 Sept 2021, Feb 5 2024