In my teens and early 20s I was obsessed with the history of computing and the internet. I still am, but other obessions have reduced the relative weight of this interest. It was during those years that I made a regular pilgrimage to the MIT Flea Market. I bought many of the components for my first computers there. I also found this important piece of computing history, a full set of 4.3 BSD manuals, Virtual VAX-11 Version from April, 1986.
The first thing I noticed was that this set includes two identical copies of the index. It was a multi-user system, and having two copies of the index would have come in handy!
The index was prepared using an automatic indexing program written at Thinking Machines Corporation, Cambridge, MA.
The rest of the books all contain the familiar
nroff-formatted manual pages, though some are much shorter than the ones you’ll find today in a modern UNIX-decendent’s
The cover of each book features the familiar “Beastie” Daemon mascot with trident, representing “forking” of processes.
Inside the front cover reveals a really interesting connection between early UNIX systems and modern culture.
Cover design by John Lassetter, Lucasfilm, Ltd.
That’s the same John Lassetter who would later write and direct “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” and “Toy Story 2,” and “Cars,” and “Cars 2.” These books have a publishing date of April, 1986, and Pixar was spun off from Lucasfilm in February, so John was already there by that point. Lassetter wasn’t the first to draw this, but his version became the most popular.
There’s a great conversation going on at Hacker News.