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60s itsavi.jpg
Character information
Common name ITS-tan
Also known as Incompatible Timesharing System
Human name(s) Izzy Knight
First appearance Dec 2007
Height 163 cm (5'4")
Hair color Brown
Eye color Brown
Weapon(s) Firearms
Faction Wanderer Class
Lineage MIT Society
Rival(s) Unix
Technical information
System personified Incompatible Time Sharing System
Developer(s) MIT
Debut 1960's
Latest release unknown (discontinued by 1990)

Technical details

ITS (Incompatible Timesharing System) was developed by the MIT AI Lab in the late 1960s and is one of the first OSes of the original hacker culture. Nimble, small and optimized to within an inch of its life, ITS originally ran on the PDP-6 and was later ported to the PDP-10 mainframe. It employed many novel security features: it did not have any passwords at first, featured a command to allow users to purposely crash it (thus diminishing the fun of it) and allowed users to spy on and interfere with one another. MIT finally shut down its ITS machines in 1990 (an event that more-or-less ended their venerable hacker society); Sweden's Stacken Computer Club retired its installation, the last in the world, in 1995. ITS is still available for hobbyist use under emulators.

Character details

ITS-tan is a small, androgynous-looking young woman with short brown hair and yellow-brown eyes. She is sometimes depicted in a steampunk-style outfit with button up shirt, a waistcoat, jeans, a bow-tie, goggles and boots, although this is regarded as something of "formal"-wear - her typical day-to-day attire usually consisting of more casual attire. Her hobbies include riding her vintage motorbike, as well as sport shooting; she is an expert marksman and is often depicted with a holstered pistol on one hip. A recurring theme in her design is the dragon – referencing ITS' dragons, processes analogous to Unix's daemons.

Offbeat, adventurous and rebellious, she enjoys traveling and speaks fluently in hacker slang. While she displays antagonism toward her fellow MIT OS-tans – accusing them of being too complex and elephantine – she conducts herself with tact and good humour for the most part.

History and background

ITS was born in the late 1960s. Like Multics, she was taken under the wing of CTSS-sensei for schooling, something she thoroughly rejected; trading book-learning for street smarts, she opted for a liberated life among the hackers, a group of free-thinking minds who reject the ways of the corporate world – believing instead in community and the free exchange of ideas and information. She learned marksmanship and motorcycling in her youth and took up traveling, during which time she encountered other like-minded OS-tans.

While Unix seems to share much in common with ITS, she in fact possesses a strong vitriol for Unix that lasts to this day; accusing her of being a part of a massive conspiracy to more or less “take over the world” – and theorizing that her behavior and means are far more akin to a Virus than an OS-tan (sentiments shared by many of her peers). It is unknown whether or not ITS realises that Unix is essentially her cousin and if this knowledge would affect her treatment of Unix.

In the mid-1970s, ITS raised young Emacs-kun and taught him the ways of their people. During her travels she came to know WAITS and Tenex well; together they penned the Jargon File, the compendium of hacker folklore, language and ethics. But their culture, like so many before would prove to be short-lived. The encroaching Unixes and DEC-tans slowly eroded their society and by the mid-1980s, ITS was kept on only as an homage to a quainter time; in 1990, she was kicked out of MIT in favour of her rivals. The blame for this can partially be placed on ITS; while an ardent advocate of the hacker culture, she was also rather unmotivated. Hardheaded and attached to her ways, she resisted change even even when it might have benefited her – and never fought particularly hard to keep her society alive.

Bitter but hopeful, ITS settled in Sweden but left a few years afterward; currently living as a wanderer, she has found a small measure of popularity among hobbyists. She has no children or proper relatives, although she does consider Emacs her son and Linux to be a spiritual-descendant and often visits them.

Theories and notes

It has been speculated that ITS-tan may not identify as female, but instead agender. Proponents of this view point to her androgynous demeanor and style of dress, and her rejection of any kind of strongly gendered behavior.