The message appears in
sudo’s revision control (in its current guise) in June 1993, in the University of Colorado version of
sudo, in a slightly shorter form:
We trust you have received the usual lecture from the local Systems
Administrator. It usually boils down to these two things:
#1) Respect the privacy of others.
#2) Think before you type.
This initial commit also introduced
sudo’s other famous message, “This incident will be reported.”
The author of the commit is Todd C. Miller, the maintainer of CU
sudo (now plain
sudo, still maintained by Todd), but the source code predates the commit; and while the source mentions Jeff Nieusma, the messages predate his involvement too and their author is presumably either Bob Coggeshall or Evi Nemeth (see also “A Brief History of Sudo”). The source history doesn’t suggest any particular background to the change. The message is typical of warning messages which were displayed when logging in to academic systems at the time.
sudo was published in the UNIX System Administration Handbook, written by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, and Scott Seebass; the version published in the first edition doesn’t include a warning in the program itself, but the authors mention that users who were granted
sudo access were sent a (lengthy) email reminding them of the responsibilities associated with that privilege.
The third item was added in January 2004, with a more interesting commit message:
Add Stan Lee / Uncle Ben quote to the lecture from RedHat
Said quote (which, as Tommy points out, wasn’t coined by Stan Lee) was added to Red Hat’s
sudo package as a patch on top of version 1.6.6, in June 2002.
Historical artifacts: these
net.sources archives contain two versions of
sudo, posted by Cliff Spencer and Don Gworek in December 1985 (also available in the UTZOO tapes); this
unix-pc.sources archive contains a different implementation by Lenny Tropiano.