Experiencing the Old Days

Many of you know I like reading about early Unix history and how the original developers worked to implement the utilities that we take for granted today. A nice resource for this is The Unix Heritage Society and their mailing list on which some of the oldtimers share their memories.

One of the things you often see on the mailing list—either in the message body or the signature line—is that some of these folks are running old, even ancient, versions of Unix. Sometimes it’s versions as old as the 1st edition but many of the purists insist that V7 was the greatest Unix release and that it’s all been downhill since.

Much as I like reading about the history, I’ve never had the urge to actually run of the older versions for serious work. Not everyone agrees. Xorhash decided to experience a bit of life in the past by doing his document preparation on a V7 Unix system.

How do you do this? Xorhash started with Robert Nordier’s port of V7 to the X86 and using the then current Vi for editing and Nroff for formatting the documents. His post was, itself, written in Troff markup but he had to use Groff to actually typeset it because the V7 version of Troff was for the long dead CAT typesetter. If you’d like to try something like this, take a look at Xorhash’s post to see the details and how he managed to get the data into and out of V7 system.

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