A Unix Ad

Bob Bowles of MediaOne scanned in an ad that appeared in Datamation in 1981. He mentioned it in Netnews; I scarfed it and did some resampling and compression.

The "positioning" of Bell System (pre-1984 divestiture) research software was always peculiar. It was available cheaply in academic/research settings (where did you think BSD came from?) and was also offered commercially and to the government, but never quite as a product. After 1984, AT&T could and did try to make a business out of this, though it was not hugely successful for the company. (One of my canned jokes for a while involved the observation that Ken and I had cost AT&T more money than anyone besides Bill McGowan, but the reference became increasingly obscure).

The Greensboro operation that produced this ad is still in operation in Lucent today (see the SSG page), but do not trust the phone numbers or PO box numbers in the ad below.

I find it hard to interpret or justify the intended meaning of this cartoon. It appears to be a guy and banknotes being sucked into a computer, which I suppose does key into the "without costly hardware" headline, but somehow the whole impression is a bit strange.

The photo for another Unix ad, dated 1980 in the Lucent archives, is here--I remember seeing it, but not precisely where. It does not include the accompanying copy, though the text in the description probably approximates it.

The description of the photo is as follows:

Photo number(s): 80-431; 80-431; 86-300838; 80-431 Negative Size: 4x5. Negative loc: MH

Visual description: This is a photo of wooden building blocks spelling out the word unix with different color letters.

Description: Unix, an easier way to use computers, from a pioneer in computing technology, fall 1980 advertisement. Our widely accepted UNIX TM operating system is simplifying the use of computers. Designed to handle a variety of applications, it is being used to manage and maintain the telecommunications network, control experiments, develop software, process text, prepare documents, and teach computer science. The UNIX system allows users to take small programs and assemble the like building blocks to perform complex tasks. In text processing, for example, the command Spell Bell Labs Ad, tells a computer to proofread this ad against a dictionary filed in its memory. The program that performs the task was created by simply combining several smaller UNIX programs.

Filing Subject: COMPUTERS/Computer Programs/UNIX

date: 09/00/1980

And finally, just to show that there are other forces in the world, here's another ad. Scanned and supplied by Vincent Guyot. He doesn't have a date; presumably circa 1980.