Today's Word of the Day means...
/wayts/ The mutant cousin of TOPS-10 used on a handful of systems at SAIL up to 1990. There was never an "official" expansion of WAITS (the name itself having been arrived at by a rather sideways process), but it was frequently glossed as "West-coast Alternative to ITS". Though WAITS was less visible than ITS, there was frequent exchange of people and ideas between the two communities, and innovations pioneered at WAITS exerted enormous indirect influence. The early screen modes of Emacs, for example, were directly inspired by WAITS's "E" editor - one of a family of editors that were the first to do "real-time editing", in which the editing commands were invisible and where one typed text at the point of insertion/overwriting. The modern style of multi-region windowing is said to have originated there, and WAITS alumni at XEROX PARC and elsewhere played major roles in the developments that led to the XEROX Star, the Macintosh, and the Sun workstations. Bucky bits were also invented there thus, the ALT key on every IBM PC is a WAITS legacy. One notable WAITS feature seldom duplicated elsewhere was a news-wire interface that allowed WAITS hackers to read, store, and filter AP and UPI dispatches from their terminals; the system also featured a still-unusual level of support for what is now called "multimedia" computing, allowing analog audio and video signals to be switched to programming terminals.
Ken Shoemake adds:
Some administrative body told us we needed a name for the operating system, and that "SAIL" wouldn't do. (Up to that point I don't think it had an official name.) So the anarchic denizens of the lab proposed names and voted on them. Although I worked on the OS used by CCRMA folks (a parasitic subgroup), I was not writing WAITS code. Those who were, proposed "SAINTS", for (I think) Stanford AI New Time-sharing System. Thinking of ITS, and AI, and the result of many people using one machine, I proposed the name WAITS. Since I invented it, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that it had no official meaning. Nevertheless, the lab voted that as their favorite; upon which the disgruntled system programmers declared it the "Worst Acronym Invented for a Time-sharing System"! But it was in keeping with the creative approach to acronyms extant at the time, including self-referential ones. For me it was fun, if a little unsettling, to have an "acronym" that wasn't. I have no idea what the voters thought. :)
an English town watchman or public musician who sounded the hours of the night. In the later Middle Ages the waits were night watchmen, who sounded horns or even played tunes to mark the hours. In the 15th and 16th centuries waits developed into bands of itinerant musicians who paraded the streets at night at Christmas time. From the early 16th century, London and all the chief boroughs had their corporation waits.