Multics 843 entries
20 Apr 2024

Glossary - Z

Glossary of Multics acronyms and terms. Entries by Tom Van Vleck ([THVV]) unless noted.

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Code name for Air Force/MITRE tiger team project that cracked Multics security in 1973. Zarf is Turkish for a coffee cup, applied by the Air Force to those white disposable cups that fit into a brown holder with a handle, which they called a finjan, also the appropriate Turkish term. Story: How the Air Force Cracked Multics Security.

[Paul Karger] We picked the name as a joke! One of the team members discovered the words zarf and finjan in a dictionary, and since the office coffee service had plastic zarfs and finjans, he told all the rest of us about the correct words we should use, instead of coffee cup holder and coffee cup insert. From then on, it was "Get a zarf for the visitor. Let me pour more coffee in your finjan..."

This quickly became the running joke in the department, and someone (I don't remember who) suggested that zarf should be the joke name for the Multics penetration project. A Lt.Col. in the office then carved a big eraser into a zarf rubber stamp in imitation of a SECRET rubber stamp - again as a joke!

Zero Six Dog
[BSG] Field Engineers' jargon for "PRG06D", the 6080/6180 T & D program which was initially the only program that knew how to load firmware into the "MPC"s (tape/disk/unit record microprogrammed controllers). Bringing up and interacting with the T & D environment was extremely difficult (as well as requiring the system to be down), and initially, no Multicians could do it. This situation led Noel Morris to develop on-line firmware loading for MPC's (a product requirement), but that was still of no value for the disk and tape controllers on which the system had to be brought up. That motivated Bernie Greenberg (1974) to learn to run "the old dog", decode the T & D programs and invent self-loading Multics firmware tapes, which he and Noel then in concert developed into self-booting, self-firmware-loading BOS tapes. This is documented in MTB-130 On the Cardreaderless Unified Bootload Tape (1974-10-18).

[BSG] BOS program that was a diagnostic for the ABSI. Written mid-1970s by Bernie Greenberg, for the ABSI hardware used to connect MIT and CISL machines to the ARPANet. The name is German for "dwarf", and alludes obliquely to the ARPANet hardware node (Honeywell 516) to which the ABSI connected Multics, the IMP (Interface Message Processor). ZWERG was developed as part of CISL's upgrade of the hardcore ARPANet code, which assumed an 8-bit "host address" (maximum of 256 computers!) to handle much longer "host addresses" in anticipation of what would become the Internet. (That project was also CISL's first foray into the "Network" code, which had theretofore been maintained solely by MIT.)