19 Jun 2012

2012 Multics Reunion

Multics Close ⊗

An informal gathering of people who worked on Multics was organized by Paul Green and held on Saturday, June 9, 2012 from 10-6 at MIT, during Reunion Weekend. 18 people attended; 5 by Skype and 13 in person. MIT provided the Stella Room, in the Architecture department, and folks dropped in or connected via Internet.

T-shirt: the first cloud system

PG's shirt

Paul says: We had a wonderful day; clear skies, quickly warming up into the 70s. We were inside, in a windowless room, but still, there could be no excuses about not attending due to bad weather. Everyone enjoyed the reunion; we are going to work on holding a 50th anniversary celebration of Project MAC next year, with a Multics reunion component too.

At one point, I asked Corby a question about the origins of Multics, both because I was interested, and because he had not had a chance to say much. The whole room fell silent, and we all listened as he recounted the beginnings of Project MAC, and Multics. He explained the chronology, and explained the important contributions made by Licklider (then at ARPA), who wanted to put $50 million into timesharing research, Fano (who was the organizer of Project Mac), Glaser (who was responsible for the Multics access control model), and so on. He left himself out of it, in the sense that he never explicitly said what his role was. The great thing about having Corby speak was that it turned the day into a focused conversation, and a single conversation. No more having 3 or 4 conversations in the room. We kept the discussion on Multics, its history, and its influence.

Corby wants to have MIT CSAIL sponsor a 50th-year celebration of the founding of Project MAC next year, and he suggested that we hold a Multics reunion as a component of that. Everyone agreed these were both good ideas. He plans to meet in person with the new head of CSAIL later this month to make his case. I said that both Tom Van Vleck and I wanted to see such an event happened, and Mike Grady and others also agreed, and said that they would help.

People who attended

People who connected in by Skype. (This sort of worked.)

Photos from the gathering

Picures by Bob Frankston [RMF], Charlie Hornig [CAH], Tom Van Vleck [THVV]