I really love Dave Walden's introduction to his 1970 paper "A System for Interprocess Communication in a Resource Sharing Computer Network", aka RFC 62. You think he's setting up to say the first way is better than the second, but then he hits you with, "actually I'm doing both."


If you want a summary of the paper (and context for it), you can read my blog post on an earlier draft of the paper: write.as/365-rfcs/rfc-61

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Computer science papers from say 1955 to 1975 are so exciting to read. There's so much fundamental stuff that we have mostly been iterating on variations of for the last 40 years. These variations are of course important, but nothing beats the thrill of reading contemporary discovery/invention of the fundamentals.

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Like this 1970 paper "The Nucleus of a Multiprogramming System"... I kind of want to just... *hug* it? It does such a good job of explaining what IS a process, what IS a peripheral, and ultimately what IS an operating system. In 11 pages!


I'm extraordinarily grateful that I'm of the age where I got to learn computer engineering and computer science from people who were active contributors to the field in the 1970s.

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Same. Perhaps I'm looking at things through rose coloured glasses, but it seems much harder these days to learn fundamental computer concepts these days. I'm taking about the full understanding of a system from the application all the way down to the hardware.

@darius a small part of me wishes they were still the ones teaching computer engineering and computer science...it's hard for me to explain to younger folk how different it felt compared to what I see them going through nowadays...

@djsundog @darius

I spoke once to Winograd's cousin and felt somehow touched by the holy transistor, ngl

@darius Its model of I/O closely matches the I/O models in both Tripos as well as Plan 9 from Bell Labs too. Whereas RC4000 treats file(system)s as processes, Plan 9 treats processes as filesystems. Plan 9's local filesystem views effectively implements the idea of a parent process serving as an operating system for its child processes (e.g., Rio window manager).


Hey, thanks for posting these, they were pretty interesting. I do really like the style of these older papers.

Would anyone be interested in a reading group thing for networking and systems papers, especially in this style?

I'm finding myself in a bit of a bind in terms of exposure to new (old) ideas and thought others might feel similarly.

Feel free to DM me if this thread isn't the right place.

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