From the history of Multics, I found that Project MAC was established on July 1, 1963 by MIT for the development of the Multics operating system and later GE (General Electric) and AT&T's Bell Labs joined the project in Aug and Nov. 1964 respectively.

The history of Multics is interesting because the failure of its development led to the development of Unix which is now used in the form of BSD and macOS/iOS and further we have widely used Unix-like operating systems e.g. GNU+Linux.

But from the history of Multics, I couldn't find any information about who had coined the term Multics and when. The only thing related to its naming known to me is "Multiplexed Information and Computing Service."

  • 7
    Not an answer, but you might find the six papers which presented the plan for Multics at the 1965 Fall Joint Computer Conference of interest.
    – sempaiscuba
    Jul 5, 2020 at 12:23
  • 5
    Who said Multics suffered a failure of development? And regardless the answer to that, the history of Multics is interesting for much more than just the subsequent development of Unix by Bell Lab researchers who didn't have access to it ...
    – davidbak
    Jul 7, 2020 at 22:31
  • 1
    Multics was hugely successful. It ran on huge expensive machines tho. Unix was designed to run on minis
    – pm100
    Jul 8, 2020 at 14:14
  • 2
    One bit of hacker humor is that Multics actually stands for "Many Unnecessarily Large Tables In Core Simultaneously."
    – Jim Nelson
    Aug 20, 2020 at 19:17

1 Answer 1


Not an answer, really, but I would suppose that the name would have been seen as natural for Project MAC's goals.

The name MAC, in one of its many interpretations, stood for "Multiple Access Computer".

Computing as a utility, that is as a service, had been talked about at MIT from the beginning. John McCarthy used the term at least as early as 1961.

Given the seeds of multiple access, timesharing, and computing as a service, it doesn't seem much of a leap to come up with "Multiplexed Information and Computing Service" (easy though it is for me to say, with the benefit of a view from the 21st century).

Thus my guess is that it was named by MIT (rather than GE or Bell). If I had to guess further, I'd go for Corbató or Fano, both having worked on CTSS and having the vision of where they were going. As to the "when" - when it came to the time to write up papers?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .