The moment when an antique operating system that has not run in decades boots and presents a command prompt is thrilling for Warren Toomey. He compares it to restoring an old Model-T. “An old car looks pretty, but at the end of the day its purpose is to drive you somewhere. I love being able to turn the engine over and actually get it to do its job.”
For more than two decades, Toomey and the Unix Heritage Society that he founded have unearthed and restored the early editions of Unix. Just last year, they recovered the assembly code of a Unix from 1970 and booted it on a PDP-7 simulator.
Not only are these ancient systems running again, we can now browse a continuous Unix commit history on GitHub. The Unix History Repo spans 1970 through modern FreeBSD, thanks to the effort of Diomidis Spinellis.