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MIT releases the sources of MULTICS, the father of UNIX!

November 10, 2007

This is extraordinary news for all nerds, computer scientists and the Open Source community: the source code of the MULTICS operating system (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service), the father of UNIX and all modern OSes, has finally been opened.

Multics was an extremely influential early time-sharing operating system started in 1964 and introduced a large number of new concepts, including dynamic linking and a hierarchical file system. It was extremely powerful, and UNIX can in fact be considered to be a "simplified" successor to MULTICS (the name "Unix" is itself a hack on "Multics"). The last running Multics installation was shut down on October 31, 2000.

From now on, MULTICS can be downloaded from the following page (it's the complete MR12.5 source dumped at CGI in Calgary in 2000, including the PL/1 compiler):

http://web.mit.edu/multics-history

Unfortunately you can't install this on any PC, as MULTICS requires dedicated hardware, and there's no operational computer system today that could run this OS. Nevertheless the software should be considered to be an outstanding source for computer research and scientists. It is not yet know if it will be possible to emulate the required hardware to run the OS.

Special thanks to Tom Van Vleck for his continuous work on www.multicians.org, to the Group BULL including BULL HN Information Systems Inc. for opening the sources and making all this possible, to the folks at MIT for releasing it and to all of those who helped to convince BULL to open this great piece of computer history.

Lobotomia said on November 13, 2007:

Summarized and translated in italian language: http://pettinix.blogspot.com/2007/11/rilasciati-i-sorgenti-di-multics.html

David Collier-Brown said on November 13, 2007:

Actually the 386 had the first Intel hardware that could support ring-crossings, so if you could squish Multics down to a 64-bit OS, you could probably run it on current PC hardware. Mind you, the 36- and 72-bit integers and pointers might suffer from a loss of precision (;-))

Joe Doaks said on November 15, 2007:

"The Father of Unix" usually refers to Ken Thompson.

Jos Kirps said on November 29, 2007:

Yeah, your're right, Ken Thompson was the "father of Unix", and "father of..." usually refers to a human being - so maybe I should have written "predecessor of Unix", I'll take care next time...

jt said on June 25, 2008:

Gee, thanks! About time! <---- Irony.

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