Computing History at Bell Labs

Over at Russ Cox's blog:

In 1997, on his retirement from Bell Labs, Doug McIlroy gave a fascinating talk about the “History of Computing at Bell Labs” ...

My favorite parts of the talk are the description of the bi-quinary decimal relay calculator and the description of a team that spent over a year tracking down a race condition bug in a missile detector (reliability was king: today you'd just stamp “cannot reproduce” and send the report back). But the whole thing contains many fantastic stories. It's well worth the read or listen. I also like his recollection of programming using cards: “It's the kind of thing you can be nostalgic about, but it wasn't actually fun.”