Re: Origin of 'talk' command

I concur with David. Virtually every timesharing system I came across had this. The Tenex facility was a bit different in that it actually linked the two terminals, so that anything either typed was visible to the other. (EVEN if they typed at the same time. It would interleave it on a character by character basis!! You can imagine how that looked!)

Jim's original teleconferencing program really was just an interface to allow more than 2. Later he started adding bells and whistles that allowed someone to grab the floor and later yet allowed someone to moderate the floor.

I remember actually working on the design with him using his program to discuss it. First while he was at Case-Western and later when he was at BBN, and late night discussions with John Iseli and Jake Feinler and I don't remember who all else.

Take care,

Englebart's NLS is one of the most important pieces of prior art here. It was working well in 1967. Licklider described his use of the original NLS in Scientific American in 1967.

DTSS had something like this before 1970. We had stuff like this at MIT on nearly every timesharing system (including CTSS on the 7094, Multics, ITS). I think I helped build such a talk program on Multics as part of the SIPB system that I worked on under Bob Frankston's direction in 19769-1970. I helped write several others inter-user communications programs on Multics. I'm pretty sure I used it on CTSS in 1968. I think terminal-to-terminal talk was available on CP/CMS as well.

I've asked Bob Frankston to corroborate. Bob probably can't post to ih, but I'll repost what he says about early terminal-to-terminal talk programs.

All of these systems had "who" commands or otherwise let you list the users online as well. Some let you check who was on other machines, and some let you talk live across machine boundaries.

At 11:26 AM 12/19/2002 -0800, Brian Dear wrote:
> I've placed PLATO's TERM-talk terminal-to-terminal talking capability to 29 years ago today (see but I'm curious if there were other inter-terminal talking facilities up and running prior to that. Most likely candidate I figured was Unix's "talk" command.

- Brian

At 11:24 AM 12/19/02 -0800, Joe Touch wrote:
Joe Touch wrote:
Brian Dear wrote:


Does anyone know the date that the Unix "talk" command originally appeared, and on what version/platform of Unix, and also if there's an RFC on it (I've not been able to locate one)?

I would not expect an RFC: talk is between users on a single machine. RFCs tend to require inter-machine communication ;-)
I.e., this may be Unix history, but not quite Internet history (though given we don't get that much traffic, and there's some overlap in expertise, it seems OK to ask).

FWIW, it _has_ been a while since I used that one...

It seems that talk works between machines these days. Though looking at the source code, there's less a 'protocol' than a TCP stream between two endpoints.

I.e., it's nowhere as complex as telnet, which is spec'd as an RFC.