not all bugs are bad

Bill Joy wrote allot of software. Allot of what he wrote in the 70s is still in use. Of course not bit by bit. Not even much of his original source code might be left. But -whether you know it or not- BSD Unix, nfs and vi make your life better. Every day. Before his generation computer code was entered via punch cards. Access was very limited. Even on the terminals that Bill used people had to account for the time they used. But:

So the computers of the time at Michigan, you were charged like $3 an hour. It was
interactive, which was cool. It wasn’t just punch cards, but you were charged like $3 an
hour to be on, and you were charged for CPU time, disk IO’s. Every little thing the
computer did, it would keep counts and charge you. So the Anthropology Department
had an account with several thousand dollars so we could get some reasonable computer
time. And we figured out how to get free time very quickly. There was a bug in the
system where you could tell it when you logged in, you’d say you wanted time, and time
equals seven seconds, or time equals five minutes, some limit. You’d sign up for a block
of time. You’d say T equals K, which was not a number, but that would give you free
time, and then we had as much time as we wanted until they plugged that loophole, which
took several years.

from Andreas Bechtolsheim & William Joy, 1999

I am sure that they would have found a different way to get the time they needed. Sometimes
gaming the system is a good thing. But certainly not as often as people think. The spirit of Enron is still out there.

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