Unix brain damage
= U =
Unix conspiracy n.
[ITS] According to a conspiracy theory
long popular among ITS and TOPS-20 fans, Unix's growth is
the result of a plot, hatched during the 1970s at Bell Labs, whose
intent was to hobble AT&T's competitors by making them dependent
upon a system whose future evolution was to be under AT&T's
control. This would be accomplished by disseminating an operating
system that is apparently inexpensive and easily portable, but also
relatively unreliable and insecure (so as to require continuing
upgrades from AT&T). This theory was lent a substantial impetus in
1984 by the paper referenced in the back door entry.
In this view, Unix was designed to be one of the first computer
viruses (see virus) -- but a virus spread to computers
indirectly by people and market forces, rather than directly
through disks and networks. Adherents of this `Unix virus' theory
like to cite the fact that the well-known quotation "Unix is snake
oil" was uttered by DEC president Kenneth Olsen shortly before DEC
began actively promoting its own family of Unix workstations.
(Olsen now claims to have been misquoted.)
[If there was ever such a conspiracy, it got thoroughly out of the
plotters' control after 1990. AT&T sold its Unix operation to
Novell around the same time Linux and other free-Unix
distributions were beginning to make noise. --ESR]
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.