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.


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