Project Genie was a computer research project started in 1964 at the
University of California, Berkeley. It produced an early time-sharing
system including the Berkeley Timesharing System, which was then
commercialized as the SDS 940.
2 See also
4 External links
Project Genie was funded by J. C. R. Licklider, the head of
that time. The project was a smaller counterpart to MIT's Project MAC.
The system that
Scientific Data Systems
Scientific Data Systems (SDS, later XDS) would call
the 940 was created by modifying an SDS 930 24-bit commercial computer
so that it could be used for timesharing. The work was funded by ARPA
and directed by Melvin W. Pirtle at and Wayne Lichtenberger at UC
Berkeley. Butler Lampson, Chuck Thacker, and
L. Peter Deutsch were
among the young technical leaders of that project. When completed
and in service, the first 940 ran reliably in spite of its array of
tricky mechanical issues such as a huge disk drive driven by hydraulic
arms. It served about forty or fifty users at a time and still managed
to drive a graphics subsystem that was quite capable for its time.
When SDS realized the value of the time sharing system, and that the
software was in the public domain (funded by the US federal
government), they came back to Berkeley and collected enough
information to begin manufacturing. Because SDS manufacturing was
overloaded with the 9 series production and the startup of the Sigma
Series production, it could not incorporate the 940 modifications into
the standard production line. Instead, production of the 940s was
turned over to the Systems Engineering Department, which manufactured
systems customised to user requirements. To produce a 940, the Systems
Engineering Department ordered a 930 from SDS manufacturing, installed
the modifications developed by the Berkeley engineers, and shipped
machine to the SDS customer as a 940.
Project Genie pioneered several computer hardware techniques, such as
commercial time-sharing which allowed end-user programming in machine
language, separate protected user modes, memory paging, and protected
memory. Concepts from
Project Genie influenced the development of the
TENEX operating system for the PDP-10, and Unix, which inherited the
concept of process forking from it (
Unix co-creator Ken Thompson
worked on an
SDS 940 while at Berkeley). An
SDS 940 mainframe was used
by Douglas Engelbart's OnLine System at the Stanford Research
Institute and was the first computer used by the Community Memory
Project at Berkeley.
A follow-on project was called CalTSS for a dual-processor CDC 6400
which ended quickly in 1969. Several members of project Genie such
as Pirtle, Thacker, Deutsch and Lampson left UCB to form the Berkeley
Computer Corporation (BCC), which produced one prototype, the
BCC-500. After BCC went bankrupt after the recession of 1969–70,
the BCC-500 was transferred to the University of Hawaii, where it
continued in use through the 1970s. It became part of the
Several BCC employees became the core of Xerox PARC's computer
research group (Deutsch, Lampson and Thacker) in 1970. Lichtenberger
went to the University of Hawaii, and was an early employee at Cisco
Pirtle became technical director for the
ILLIAC IV project at NASA
Ames Research Center.
Berkeley Timesharing System
Timeline of operating systems
^ Paul Spinrad and Patti Meagher. "Project Genie: Berkeley's piece of
the computer revolution". University of California, Berkeley
Engineering. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved
April 16, 2011.
^ Ritchie, Dennis M.; Thompson, Ken (July 1978). "The UNIX
Time-Sharing System" (PDF). Bell System Tech. J. AT&T. 57 (6):
1905–1929. doi:10.1002/j.1538-7305.1978.tb02136.x. Retrieved 22
Butler Lampson (October 1969). "An Overview of the CAL Time-Sharing
System" (PDF). University of California. Retrieved April 20,
^ Butler Lampson. "Berkeley
Computer Corporation". Microsoft Research.
Retrieved April 16, 2011.
^ Charles F. Wall (January 3, 1974). "Design Features of the BCC 500
CPU" (PDF). Technical Report R-1. University of Hawaii.
^ Frank F. Kuo (January 1995). "The ALOHA system" (PDF). ACM Computer
Communication Review. 25.
^ Shawn Adderly (November 29, 2010). "ECE alumnus Wayne Lichtenberger
donates a piece of computing history to the University". University of
Illinois Engineering. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
^ Interviewed by Al Kossow (August 29, 2007). "Oral History of Charles
(Chuck) Thacker" (PDF). Reference no: X4148.2008.
Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 11, 2011. Retrieved
April 20, 2011.