Command language for BESYS 

Command language for the BESYS (Bell Babs System) - influential on MULTICS command language

Related languages
BESYS => MULTICS   Derivation of

  • Stevenson, Malcolm G. "Bell Labs: A Pioneer in Computing Technology", Murray Hill, NJ: Bell Laboratories, 1974 view details
  • Drummond, R. E. "BESYS revisited" paper delivered at 1987 AFIPS Pioneer Day on Operating Systems in Chicago 1987 view details Abstract: The origins and development of the BESYS family of operating systems are traced. Developed at AT&T Bell Laboratories in the late fifties, the system was used for over 10 years to control and facilitate the use of the IBM 704-709X series of computers. Some of the novel operating system techniques created for the system and the people who produced them are chronicled.
  • Mastrogiovanni, Amy P. "Operating Systems: Some Reflections After a Meeting in Chicago" view details
          in Annals of the History of Computing 10(3) 1988 view details
  • Norberg, Arthur L.; O'Neill, Judy E.; Freedman, Kerry J. "A history of the Information Processing Techniques Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency" The Charles Babbage Institute, The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, October 1992 view details Extract: BESYS and MULTICS
    Bell Laboratories was looking for a new computer in order to implement a new time-sharing operating system for its internal use. It had developed its own in-house BESYS (Bell System) batch operating system on an IBM 704 computer in 1958. BESYS continued to evolve as it served as the operating system for the many IBM computers used at Bell Laboratories. The staff evaluated the GE equipment and chose it for their planned time-sharing system.
    They then decided to cooperate with Project MAC and GE on the development of a new time-sharing system. In 1965, the three organizations announced their joint effort in a series of papers describing the planned Multiplexed Information and Computing Service (Multics). Each organization brought strengths to the project.

          in Annals of the History of Computing 10(3) 1988 view details
  • Hauben, Ronda "On the Evolution of Unix and the Automation of Telephone Support Operations" view details Abstract: 1994 is the 25th anniversary of the invention of the UNIX kernel at Bell Labs. The following article is a chapter in a longer paper documenting some of the events that have contributed to the development of a Global Computer Network in the past 25 years. This article describes how the need to automate telephone support operations in the U.S. in the late 1960s and the early 1970s nourished the birth and developement of the UNIX operating system and how academic computer science contributed to and gained from the development of UNIX. This article is intended as a contribution to a 25th anniversary commemoration of the significance of the UNIX breakthrough and the lessons that can be learned for making the next step forward.

    During the formative years in the creation of the Arpanet, which was to become the backbone to the Global Computer Network, there were similar seminal developments taking place at the Bell Laboratories, the Research and Development unit of the Bell System. These developments were to have a significant impact on the future course of computer science research and networking in the world. As early as 1957, Bell Labs found they needed an operating system for their inhouse computer center which was then running lots of short batch jobs. Describing the situation facing the Labs, Victor Vyssotsky, who had been involved the techanical head of the Multics project at Bell Labs and later Executive Director of Research in the Information Systems Division of AT&T Bell Labs, explains, " We just couldn't take the time to get them on and off the machine manually. We needed an operating system to sequence jobs through and control machine resources." (from "Putting Unix in Perspective", Interview with Victor Vyssotsky, by Ned Pierce, in Unix Review, Jan. 1985, pg. 59)

    The BESYS operating system was created at Bell Labs to deal with their inhouse needs. When asked by others outside the labs to make a copy available, they did so but with no obligation to provide support. "There was no support when we shipped a BESYS tape to somebody," Vyssotsky recalls, "we would answer reasonable questions over the telephone. If they found troubles or we found troubles, we would provide fixes." (Ibid., pg. 59)

    By 1964, however, the Labs was adopting third generation computer equipment and had to decide whether they would build their own operating system or go with one that was built outside the Labs. Vyssotsky recounts the process of deliberation at the time, "Through a rather murky process of internal deliberation we decided to join forces with General Electric and MIT to create Multics," he explains. The Labs planned to use the Multics operating system "as a mainstay for Bell Laboratories internal service computing in precisely the way that we had used the BESYS operating system." (Ibid., pg. 59)

    The collaborative project by GE, MIT and AT&T to create a computer operating system that would be called Multics (1965-68) was to "show that general-purpose, multiuser, timesharing systems were viable." (See Douglas Comer, "Pervasive Unix: Cause for Celebration," Unix Review, October, 1985, pg. 42) Based on the results of research gained at MIT using the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS), AT&T and G.E. agreed to work with MIT to build a "new hardware, a new operating system, a new file system, and a new user interface." (Ibid.) Though the project proceeded slowly and it took several additional years to develop Multics, Doug Comer, a Professor of Computer Science at Purdue University, explains that "fundamental issues were uncovered, new approaches were explored and new mechanisms were invented." (Ibid) The most important, he explains, was that "participants and observers alike became devoted to a new form of computing (the interactive, multiuser, timesharing system.). As a result, the Multics project dominated computer systems research for many years, and many of its results are still considered seminal." (Ibid.)

          in Annals of the History of Computing 10(3) 1988 view details