Thompson, Ritchie and Kernighan admit that Unix was a prank!

In an announcement that has stunned the computer industry, Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan admitted that the Unix operating system and C programming language created by them is an elaborate prank kept alive for over 20 years. Speaking at the recent UnixWorld Software Development Forum, Thompson revealed the following:

“In 1969, AT&T had just terminated their work with the GE/Honeywell/AT&T Multics project. Brian and I had started work with an early release of Pascal from Professor Niklaus Wirth’s ETH Labs in Switzerland and we were impressed with its elegant simplicity and power. Dennis had just finished reading ‘Bored of the Rings’, a National Lampoon parody of the Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. As a lark, we decided to do parodies of the Multics environment and Pascal. Dennis and I were responsible for the operating environment. We looked at Multics and designed the new OS to be as complex and cryptic as possible to maximize casual users’ frustration levels, calling it Unix as a parody of Multics, as well as other more risque! allusions. We sold the terse command language to novitiates by telling them that it saved them typing. […]

An age-old forward, but still hilarious! Anybody have any leads to the veracity of this article… ? I could trace it back to Matthew Darwin’s site where it is said to have been posted on July 30, 1997.

Thanks Aroona, for passing this on to me… ­čśë


PS: Apologies to people who have already read this over the last seven years…! ­čśë