Eric Allman: Hello. I have managed to live an extraordinarily lucky lifetime. One of my first strokes of luck was happening to arrive at UC Berkeley the same year that Unix did, 1973. And so I got in on the ground floor there. And there were some extraordinary people at Berkeley as well, which made Berkeley Unix into something that was closely tied to the growth of the Internet.
When I started, of course, there was no capital‑I Internet. There were, however, eventually a bunch of smaller networks that didn’t talk to each other, and I decided that they needed to talk to each other at least for email. And we had ARPANET, we had something called Berknet, we had UUCP, and later PurdueNet and CSNET and so forth. And so that was the lowercase‑I internet. That’s what John Quarterman calls “The Matrix.” And that was delivermail, that was to make those things work together.
Bill Joy was one of the principals on the Berkeley Unix version that had the first TCP/IP stack, and he needed somebody to write the mail server. And somehow he convinced me to do this, which if I had realized at the time I never would have done it but that’s true of many things. So that was the conversion from delivermail to sendmail. The goal of sendmail was still to try and unify things, pull things together, and not necessarily to do everything, which many systems these days apparently feel the need to reimplement absolutely everything, which seems wasteful to me.
I also ended up working on something called syslog, which is the basic system logging facility. I did that as part of the sendmail project, but intentionally to be generic. And that in some sense has been more successful than sendmail even though nobody seems to know that I wrote it. It’s in pretty much every printer, wireless access point, you name it. It’s…it’s just there. And so I’m actually quite proud of that, even if I am anonymous on that side.
There are of course way too many people to thank, so I’m not going to try and thank all of them but I’m going to call out just a couple of names. Bill Joy, of course, who if he hadn’t talked me into this I wouldn’t be here today. Michael Stonebraker and Susan Graham, who were both at various times employing me to do something else and yet still managed to allow me to work on sendmail. Bryan Costales, who literally wrote the book on sendmail and made it much more popular—documentation is important, I’m here to tell you. And finally my husband Marshall Kirk McKusick, who supported me through a lot of this thing, including all the times I spent way more time with my computer than I did with him. Thank you.