[ih] Re: This history of "talk"

Bob Braden braden at ISI.EDU
Thu Dec 19 12:51:13 PST 2002

I believe that the "talk" program was one instantiation of the
notion of "linking" users.  Well, the original term was "linking
teletypes".  I suspect that every designer of an early timesharing
system (re-?)invented this concept.  Once you have a mechanism to
pass typed characters to and from a user's teletype, it is obvious
that you can use this as an inter-user communication mechanism,
"linking" two user's erminals.

This is a long time ago and I am a bit fuzzy, but I think I first saw
the linkiong concept on John McCarthy's PDP/1 (?) time sharing system
when I went to work at Stanford in 1966.  It was certainly present in
Englebart's NLS system in the mid 1970s, and I believe it existed in
the ITS and Multics system, probably in the mid 1960s.

As soon as you had teletype connectivity across the ARPAnet, it
was obvious that you could just as easily link across the network.
I believe this was a feature of Tenex, probably of TOPS 10 and
TOPS 20.  And I even implemented it on an IBM mainframe... ;-)

Bob Braden

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