Multics

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Multics
Multicsavi2.png
Character information
Common name Multics
Also known as Multiplexed Information and Computing Service
Human name(s) Minerva Corbató
First appearance Oct. 2007
Height 5'7" (170cm)
Hair color Dark plum
Eye color Cornflower blue
Weapon(s) Psionic forcefields, labyrinths
Faction MIT Society
Lineage CTSS
Rival(s) GECOS, TSS/360, Unix
Technical information
System personified Multics
Developer(s) MIT, Bell Labs, GE, Honeywell
Debut Development started in 1964; first commercial release in 1969
Latest release Circa 1985

Technical details

Multics is an ambitious OS developed jointly by Bell Labs (dropped out of the project in 1969), General Electric (later Honeywell) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and funded largely by DARPA. The goal of this collaboration, dubbed Project MAC, was to create an operating system that worked as a water or electric utility does; running on a central mainframe which thousands of users would have access to. Because of this, stability and security were of the utmost importance.

Built on and hosted by machines running CTSS, development of Multics began in 1964; but a fully working system was not released until 1969. Multics was plagued by complexity from the start, and at many points became almost too expensive and difficult to continue development. While largely a commercial disappointment, Multics implemented many novel ideas which went on to influence the other OSes of its time, most notably Unix. Many of Multics' features can be found in popular operating systems today. In November of 2007, Multics' source code was made open by Groupe Bull; while machines capable of running Multics are long gone, a project to build a Honeywell 6180 (DPS-8) emulator is underway.

Character details

Physical

Multics-tan with her sceptre

Multics-tan is depicted as a mature woman, mid-to-late 20s in apparent age, a little above average height with shapely hips, a curved waist and modest chest. She has long, slightly-waved dark plum hair, cornflower blue eyes and wings covered with mottled gray and black feathers. In the prime of her life, she often dressed in Rococo-inspired gowns, with deep necklines, multiple layers, corsets, hoop-skirts, bustles and petticoats common occurrences in her wardrobe. She is often depicted as having multiple piercings in both ears, wearing lipstick and eye-makeup and copious amounts of gold jewelry. Post-revival Multics dresses simply - usually being depicted in a sleeveless long off-white sundress and sporting henna-like adornments on her hands, feet and forehead.

A recurring theme in her design (both past and present) is rings and mazes, symbolic of Multics' ringed security features. Most notable among these being a round labyrinth-shaped tattoo on the upper part of her chest. In her youth, she owned a ornately decorated metal sceptre, however it was taken from her by Unix.

Alternate color scheme

(There is an alternate color scheme for Multics based on her widely-accepted animal anthropomorphism, the bald eagle. This color scheme calls for gold eyes and dark brown wings.)

Personality

Although she isn't particularly well-educated compared to the majority of her MIT-tan peers - her academic growth having taken something of a backseat to her cultural and magical development - Multics is intelligent, naturally curious and loves enriching her mind through a number of intellectual pursuits. She is particularly fond of social sciences and enjoys studying international cultures, history and learning languages, and she is fluent in English, French and Latin and familiar with German and Japanese as well. Perhaps stemming from her own avian nature, ornithology is major interest of hers and she enjoys watching birds. She is also fond of aesthetics and design and loves to create and appreciate beautiful things.

Multics' personality is complex enough to defy any sort of easy classification. She is valiant, just, loyal and ambitious to a fault, but is also habitually-hedonistic, prone to excess and arrogance (particularly in her early adulthood). Her temperament largely depends on her company - friends describe her as affectionate, committed and helpful, while enemies are treated to a decidedly cold and uncaring side of her personality. For the most part, she conducts herself with tact and courtesy, and her commanding nature and natural leadership skills gained her a devoted following - one she managed to maintain even past her death. She is rather notorious for putting on a "good face" no matter what, and tries to hide any feelings of melancholy or fear at all costs.

Powers

For the most part, Multics' raison d'être was being a sorceress - to the point where her ability to perform sorcery was given precedence over her physical and emotional health, comfort and safety, among other basic necessities. Because of this, Multics viewed her magical abilities as something of a curse, albeit one necessary to her livelihood and survival.

In addition to possessing the typical sorcery of a timesharing-system-tan, Multics-tan practiced a number of experimental magics; in particular, she possessed powerful psionic abilities and was skilled in the creation of energy forcefields. In its most simple form, this includes the creation of basic barriers and at its most complex, extremely large labyrinth structures designed to confuse and defeat would-be attackers. In addition to keeping herself safe from attack, she uses these powers to protect valuable information and data. This was a valuable power, one that found her numerous employment opportunities in corporate and government sectors.

Although her powers waxed and waned throughout her life, she maintained a high level of magical ability until her death.

History and background

Origins

Multics was born in 1964, the culmination of extensive planning and research into creating a powerful OS-tan whose sorcery could reliably serve large numbers of users. Her development was originally supervised by a triumvirate of institutions - MIT, Bell Labs and GE - with large numbers of programmers and engineers from each organization. However, MIT was responsible for the majority of her design and education, as well as providing her a home. Genetically-speaking, Multics was derived from CTSS-tan, who served as a mother, caretaker and teacher throughout her youth.

In the mid-1960s, Multics traveled to Bell Labs to receive tutoring from BESYS-tan. This arrangement ended sooner than expected, as BESYS resented Multics' "displacement" of her and Multics was generally petulant toward her tutor. Some sources suggest a code connection between Multics and Besys-tan as well, although this remains speculative for the most part.

Although Multics was "born complex" - with magical and defensive powers usually only obtained through extensive instruction - her body was notoriously weak and prone to illness and she was chronically depressed throughout her youth. From around 1967 to her debut in 1970, she underwent training in a number of highly advanced and experimental forms of sorcery and the physical, psychological and magical strain of this training continued to wear on her health. By the year 1968, the project was thoroughly over-budget, behind schedule and Multics hadn't yet developed the powers expected of her. Her programmers and engineers became restless and discouraged and there was talk of cutting off funding, abandoning and the near-certain death of Multics. However, the relentless efforts of a small-but-loyal group of followers saved her and by the next year her health and powers began to rebound.

In the spring of 1969, Bell Labs dropped support for Multics and absconded with sections of her code. This was decidedly unfortunate turn of events, as it directly led to the creation of a modified clone - UNIX-tan - several months later.

Conflict with Unix

By the fall of the same year, Multics debuted in good health and near-completely matured. Her success had gained her a dedicated following but also created enemies. GECOS-tan, who was Multics' step-sister (via GE) and had served as her caretaker, began to see Multics as a potential threat to her livelihood if not her life. Believing UNIX to be the only person strong enough to defeat Multics, GECOS-tan mentored the girl and conditioned her to hate and fear Multics. This plan worked and throughout the early 1970s Multics faced continual failed attacks by Unix. While she had the power to defeat Unix, Multics chose not to, perhaps out of sympathy for her "daughter".

In 1971 their conflict came to a head. During a fight, Multics nearly killed Unix, and upon regaining consciousness Unix besieged Multics' defenses in a fit of berserker-like rage, absorbing a large portion of her mother's psionic energy and using it to break through her forcefields and unleash a direct physical assault. This attack left Multics with a broken wing and stripped of a large portion of her magical powers.

Prime

The 1970s and 1980s were the prime of Multics' life. In the 70s, she continued work for MIT, collecting and keeping information, helping in social science, graphical formatting and networking projects and continuing her studies of and development of sorcery techniques. During this time, she began to take over some of her now-ailing mother's workload.

In 1970 she began working with the US Air Force at Rome AFB, a sort of exchange deal with her providing computing services and the military teaching her ever-more advanced self-defense techniques. Although the majority of her work there remains classified, it is known that during this time she met SAGE-tan. While their relationship got off to a rocky start, the two eventually started a friendship that lasted into the modern day.

In 1971 she joined the ARPANet, a burgeoning network system that incorporated many high-profile -tans of the day, and in '73, Multics debuted commercially and began securing many territories around the world. In the same year, CTSS-tan passed away, but little has been documented about Multics' reaction to the loss of her beloved mother.

Although she spent more and more time away from home, her work in Cambridge continued. United by their similar personalities, in the mid-70s she and Emacs-kun struck up a friendship and began working together. This turned out to be a symbiotic arrangement - Emacs becoming Multics' go-to text editor, and Multics teaching Emacs new forms of sorcery that he would use well into the modern day. Later on the two started dating and maintained a relationship well into the 1980s. [1]

The 1970s weren't all positive, however. Her nemesis, GECOS-tan, launched a new round of attacks, using her political and social power within the Honeywell faction to create doubt about and stir up sentiments against Multics. In spite of GECOS' primitive methods of sorcery and relative powerlessness against the rival mainframe-tans of the era, she was able to capture the majority of support within the faction and very nearly have Multics-tan overthrown on the spot. However, a small group of Multicians were able to stave off the deposal and secure their mistress' future, at least for awhile.

During the late 1970s and early 80s, Multics made contact with the Cray family and CDC Faction. In 1978 she traveled to the University of Calgary to take over a post being kept by KRONOS-kun and in the same year was hired to be a servant for the venerable CRAY-1-tan. Although their egos clashed initially, they eventually came to respect each other and collaborate on a number of projects. In the 80s, she became especially popular in France and resided in the nation on-and-off throughout the decade.

In 1985, Multics-tan achieved a B2 security rating, one of the highest security ratings of any OS-tan of the time.

Decline and death

Although Multics continued to be successful throughout the 1980s, she was effectively laid off by Honeywell in 1985. While this was not considered a greatly surprising move - given their past attempts to cut off her funding in favor of GECOS-tan - it still sent shockwaves throughout the Multician community as their leader was seriously jeopardized for the first time in close to a decade. Thus began many attempts to rescue Multics from her inevitable demise. Many Multics users demanded continued support for leader, and when their pleas were refused they defected to other camps.

Others attempts were made: Multics sought to free herself from her attachments to Honeywell so she could form her own company, others, sensing the soon-to-be-demise of the Big Iron mainframe culture, sought ways to port her to new, more contemporary architectures. For a time, Multics tried to obtain asylum with the CDC faction, although the negations broke down quickly.

Her 1988 banishment from MIT was, in many ways, the nail in the proverbial coffin. Exiled to a few remaining sites, she lived the rest of her life in relative obscurity, with Halifax, Nova Scotia being her final residence. In 2000, Multics was tracked down by Unix and the two reconciled shortly before her death. [2]

Resurrection

In 2007, Multics-tan was brought back from the dead. The circumstances of her resurrection remains unclear - while it was originally believed that the necromancer Plan 9-tan revived her at the behest of the Multicians, there is evidence against this theory - most notably, the fact that Multics was brought back with full mental faculties and free will, something not usually seen in Plan 9-tan's revived subjects.

Recently, it has been speculated that SAGE-tan was responsible for Multics' resurrection. Supporters of this theory point to SAGE's apparent ability to cheat death (having outlived the destruction of her installations for over 30 years), as well as SAGE-tan's affection for Multics. [3]

Multics was reborn without any sort of magical or defensive abilities and with her riches long gone, and by all means now leads a modest lifestyle. However, she was also reborn as an Open Source OS-tan, fulfilling her lifelong dream of being able to be free of having others control her destiny. She now resides at the Binteeji Renmei, a sanctuary for vintage and retired OS-tans.

Theories and notes

  • Multics may have used up a large portion of her ancestor's life-force in order to jump-start her own [4]

Fanworks

Early drawings

Contemporary drawings

Fiction

"Dirty Water" (Multics-tan featured in parts 4 and 5)

"Reunion"

"What's For Dinner"