This month saw the release of a fascinating oral history, in which 76-year-old Brian Kernighan remembers the origins of the Unix command grep.
Kernighan is already a legend in the world of Unix — recognized as the man who coined the term Unix back in 1970. His last initial also became the “k” in awk — and the “K” when people cite the iconic 1978 “K&R book” about C programming. The original Unix Programmer’s Manual calls Kernighan an “expositor par excellence,” and since 2000 he’s been a computer science professor at Princeton University — after 30 years at the historic Computing Science Research Center at Bell Laboratories.
In new interviews with the YouTube channel Computerphile, Kernighan has been sharing some memories…
Birth of a Utility
The original Unix Programmer’s Manual calls grep one of “the more memorable mini-revolutions” that Unix experienced, saying it irrevocably ingrained the “tools” outlook into Unix. “Already visible in utilities such as wc, cat, and uniq, the stream-transformation model was deliberately followed in the design of later programs such as tr, m4, sed, and a flurry of language preprocessors.” grep, of course, is used when searching for text patterns — whether that text is coming from input files or from “piped” text (output from another command).
Read more at The New Stack