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Read http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/stallman-kth.html (1986). RichardStallman explains how the MitAiLab kept an anarchic multiuser system and thus prevented destruction of their computer facilities. They would even smash down locked doors to "free" terminals. This attitude carried him forward into the GnuProject, which he also discusses.

Excerpt:

On ITS we evolved other means of discouraging people from doing those things by accident, but on Twenex you didn't have them because they assumed that there was going to be be strict security in effect and only the bosses were going to have the power to do them. So they didn't put in any other mechanism to make it hard to do by accident.

...That machine wasn't designed also to support the phenomenon called "tourism". Now "tourism" is a very old tradition at the AI lab, that went along with our other forms of anarchy, and that was that we'd let outsiders come and use the machine.

...The ITS machines had certain ... features that helped prevent this from getting out of hand, one of these was the "spy" feature, where anybody could watch what anyone else was doing. And of course tourists loved to spy, they think it's such a neat thing, it's a little bit naughty you see, but the result is that if any tourist starts doing anything that causes trouble there's always somebody else watching him. So pretty soon his friends would get very mad because they would know that the continued existence of tourism depended on tourists being responsible. So usually there would be somebody who would know who the guy was, and we'd be able to let him leave us alone. And if we couldn't, then what we would do was we would turn off access from certain places completely, for a while, and when we turned it back on, he would have gone away and forgotten about us. And so it went on for years and years and years.

The archives of the last ITS machines at MIT is available at http://www.its.os.org/

CategoryHacking (ITS was a cool hack.)


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