CMU Andrew system (and wm) preservation

Chris Hanson cmhanson at
Mon Sep 7 13:43:51 CDT 2020

On Sep 7, 2020, at 6:24 AM, dstalk at wrote:
> The description I have for AUIS (6.3.1) is:
> "AUIS (Andrew User Interface System) - compound document
> environment offering a word processor, mail/bulletin board
> reader/writer, drawing editor, spreadsheet, font editor,
> application builder, and many other facilities"
> Again, an application, not a windowing system per se.

Yes, the Andrew environment implemented proper layering, so ATK was made to work atop X and the applications (messages, ez, console, typescript, etc.) came along.

At Carnegie Mellon in the early 1990s, you could (with only a little work, to use a console rather than graphical login) use either X or wm on some of the campus workstations. On a DECstation 3100 running Ultrix, if you weren’t going to run any X applications wm was *much* more responsive. I wasn’t around when the clusters had Sun-3 or IBM RT hardware but I can imagine the differences there were even more pronounced. (With wm, a DECstation felt as much faster than a Mac II as it actually was…)

Applications built against ATK could run atop either wm or X; I don’t know if there were distinct builds of ATK or if the conditional logic was in the framework itself, but the applications themselves worked just fine with either since Andrew implemented a shared library mechanism. (Yes, even on Ultrix.)

The publicly-released Andrew distributions don’t include the wm code, only the X version. I don’t know if they’ll actually build against the wm headers and libraries if they’re present, or if by the time CMU was releasing them publicly they had stripped that code out entirely.

  — Chris

More information about the cctech mailing list