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On the afternoon of Thanksgiving 1962,
I decided to start project MAC.
And the next day I had an appointment
with the provost, Charlie Townes.
And I told him what I had in mind,
and I said, well, think about it and let me know.
And he said, oh, no.
Go ahead.
So encouraged by that during the weekend,
I wrote a little memorandum-- two pages.
Then on Monday I did [INAUDIBLE] around MIT,
and on Tuesday, I went to see the president, J. Stratton.
And the only question that he had--
where are you going to do it?
And by that time, I had done some homework
and find out that the new building that was being
built in Technology Square.
So there was a space on Thursday.
Licklider was supposed to come to MIT for something else,
so everybody got together in the president's office.
We shook hands, and that was it.
Oh, wow.
Exactly one week.
There were no computer scientists, after all,
because nobody had a computer science program yet.
So everybody was a mathematician, a physicist,
an electrical engineer, a drop out.
We had them all.
But they had skipped the analog age.
Every one of them was peculiar, and different, and unusual,
and maybe artistic, but whatever they wanted to do
they would get done.
The project that had to be done was
whatever was the right thing to do
because I discovered the right path, and I liked that.
That's the way science ought to be.
There had been an initial surge to try to do something
about timesharing.
So I decided to initiate basically a quick hack
by creating a timesharing system on using the IBM 709,
but by just basically using the mechanisms that
had been tacked onto the 709 so that the operating system could
begin to function as a time sharing system,
we basically took a very quick cut
at creating what came to be called
the compatible timesharing system.
The hackers worked on their computers,
but there was all the CTSS, and the [? many folks, ?]
and others.
The hackers felt like, by golly, we
got to be able to do better than they did.
So [INAUDIBLE] initial operating system was called CTSS,
and so they called there's ITS.
CTSS is compatible timesharing system,
and ITS was the incompatible timesharing system, and that
created a culture among the hackers,
which was really hard to beat.
There was wonderful family.
Several years afterwards when Project MAC
was really become a laboratory, I tried to change the name.
The administration wouldn't let me.
The laboratory was a piece of a department doing research
into an established area, and computer science
was regarded as an established area.
One of the things we did towards the beginning of Project MAC
was we decided we had to revise, revamp, and redo
the file system.
That created different new, unknown atmosphere
in Project MAC.
That is, the computer system became
a property of the people, and this was a phenomenon
that we didn't expect.
People tried-- created a community,
and people started writing a program for other people
to use, which was a new thing.
We had a big memory--
a whole megabyte of RAM.
In my pocket is 10,000 times as much RAM
as Joel had-- as the biggest computer we had then,
but we were on the leading edge saying
we need that sort of thing, and that became
the standard sort of thing.
And I don't think if we weren't doing that, that that
wouldn't have happened.
We all knew about Moore's law, and I sort of believed it,
but I can't for the life of me figure out
why I couldn't have anticipated what's happened.
I just didn't, and I don't know whether that
was myopia or what, but it's all so logical when
you look backwards, and it seems to happen just on schedule,
but why didn't we predict it?
I don't know.
Well, I think the kinds of things we did back then
have become part of mainstream computer science,
and as they become more important,
they become less conspicuous.
People were shocked.
I mean, there were two things.
One was the idea that out of a typewriter
you could control the computer.
This was basically unthinkable for many people.
And then the powering added to the thing--
what you could do.
It was just a different world that people were enchanted.