Command Line Heroes

By Red Hat

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 Feb 8, 2020


 Jan 1, 2020

Ryan
 Nov 4, 2019
Amazing podcast. Wonderful stories

Matt Aguirre
 Mar 10, 2019


 Dec 24, 2018

Description

Stories about the people transforming technology from the command line up.

Episode Date
After the Bubble
00:22:39

The Y2K bug generated a lot of fear, but all that hype fizzled when the new millennium didn’t start with a digital apocalypse. It turns out that fear was just aimed at the wrong catastrophe. While plenty were riding high on the rise of the internet beyond the Y2K scare, another disaster had been brewing since 1995—and would bring them back down. But the dot-com bubble wasn’t the end. The internet was here to stay. 

Not long after the turn of the millennium, the dot-com economy collapsed. Peter Relan points to the flawed business plans that fueled the dot-com bubble, and how many entrepreneurs and investors underestimated the complexity of building a business on the internet. Ernie Smith tells the story of Pets.com, and how a similar idea a decade later had a much better chance of succeeding. Gennaro Coufano reveals the element of luck that saved Amazon from going under —and how it evolved in the aftermath. Julia Furlan reflects on the changes the dot-com bubble brought, and what’s left to consider. And Brian McCullough describes how the dot-com bubble paved the way for a more resilient digital economy.

If you want to read up on some of our research on the dot-com bubble, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. The page is built in the style of 1995—check it out.

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Jun 29, 2021
The World of the World Wide Web
00:26:38

1995 laid the groundwork for a truly global World Wide Web. But not every country took the same path to connecting to the internet. Some resisted, wanting to create their own version. Others had to fight for access, not wanting to be left behind. And while we made huge strides in connecting the world in those early years, we still have a long way to go. 

Julien Mailland recounts the rollout of France’s Minitel service—how it was years ahead of the internet, but eventually lost its lead. Steve Goldstein explains what was involved in building the infrastructure to expand the NSFNET beyond the United States. Gianluigi Negro shares how China pushed for its connection, and how different it would be compared to the typical U.S. connection. And Christian O'Flaherty covers how costs weighed heavily on Argentina’s attempts to join the growing international network.
 

Clip of Madam Hu courtesy of Asia Internet History Project. Clip from 'A Glimpse of the Future' courtesy of Richard Seltzer. 

If you want to read up on some of our research on the global internet rollout, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. The page is built in the style of 1995—check it out.

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Jun 15, 2021
Looking for Search
00:24:31

The web was growing quickly in the ‘90s. But all that growth wasn’t going to lead to much if people couldn’t actually find any web sites. In 1995, an innovative new tool started crawling the web. And the search engine it fed opened the doors to the World Wide Web. 

Elizabeth Van Couvering describes trying to find websites before search engines, and how difficult it was becoming in the early ’90s to keep track of them all. Louis Monier talks about having to convince others how important search engines would become—and he showed them what a web crawler could do. Paul Cormier recounts taking the search engine from a research project to a commercial one. And Richard Seltzer wrote the book on search engines, helping the rest of the world see what a profoundly vital tool they would become.
 

If you want to read up on some of our research on search, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. The page is built in the style of 1995—check it out.

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Jun 01, 2021
Shopping for the Web
00:25:12

We put a lot of trust into online shopping: sharing our names, addresses, and handing over money. In return, we have faith that the purchased item appears at our doorstep in a few days or weeks. That trust didn’t come easily. In 1995, we took our first steps out of the brick and mortar store to load our digital shopping cart. 

Robert Spector reveals how Amazon.com’s business foundations are in data—and being early to the internet. Sandeep Krishnamurthy recounts the rise of eBay. Angela Robinson describes the technology that makes secure transactions and trustworthy e-commerce possible. Kartik Shastri shares how difficult it was to store and process consumer data. And Katie Wilson explains how some big tech companies are different from previous monopolies, but are following many of the same paths.

If you want to read up on some of our research on web design, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. The page is built in the style of 1995—check it out.

Follow along with the episode transcript.

May 18, 2021
Web UX Begins
00:24:53

Looking at the internet in 1995 is like looking back at awkward grade school yearbooks—all the weirdness and flaws stand out in stark contrast to what it’s grown into since. And web design took awhile to become a career—but it got a big boost in 1995. When the Batman Forever website launched to promote the movie, it showed people what was possible on the web. And it forever changed what we’d expect from a website. 

Jay Hoffmann describes the quirky designs of the early web. Richard Vijgen explains how we went from a lack of conventions to a homogenized web. Jeffrey Zeldman recounts building the Batman Forever movie’s website—and sowing the seeds of professional web design. Jessica Helfand outlines the process and joys of designing a web page. And Kyle Drake shares how he founded Neocities in an attempt to recreate some of that magic of the early web.

May 04, 2021
A Language for the Web
00:26:01

The Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) gave everyone a foundation for building and viewing the World Wide Web. In 1995, its standardization led to dominance. Its simplicity helped it spread. And its solid common foundation helped shape the internet. 

Dr. Belinda Barnet explains what kind of framework was initially needed to build and navigate the Web. Jeff Veen describes the three ingredients Tim Berners-Lee combined to create HTML: the ideal language for the Web. Gavin Nicol recounts the need to standardize the quickly-growing language. And Gretchen McCulloch points out how HTML instills an inherent bias for English speakers to develop for the web.

If you want to read up on some of our research on HTML, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript

Apr 20, 2021
From NSF to ISP
00:27:31

1995 was the year that ISPs became the dominant gateway to the information superhighway. But how’d we go from ARPANET all the way to that? It turns out, none of it would have happened without a team of intrepid engineers at the University of Michigan.

Marc Weber tells us how a tension between academics and the military set the next evolution of the ARPANET. Douglas Van Houweling discusses the work his MERIT team did at the University of Michigan to build the national backbone of the NSFNET. Elise Gerich, MERIT’s systems manager, talks about how they made the leap from a T1 connection to a T3 to handle traffic from their growing network. And Janet Abbate emphasizes how all this set the stage for the commercialized internet that birthed the dot-com boom in 1995.

If you want to read up on some of our research on the NSFNET, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. Follow along with the episode transcript.

Apr 06, 2021
Connecting the Dot-Com
00:27:55

The year is 1995. The internet starts going mainstream and the dot-com bubble begins its rapid inflation. But 10 years before all of this, a small team of systems administrators made a seemingly simple decision that would turn out to have a monumental impact on these events and would set the course of the internet for the foreseeable future. 

Dr. W. Joseph Campbell sets the stage for our season on the internet in 1995. Claire L. Evans explains how hard it was to find anything on the early internet. One team was charged with compiling that information in the early days of the ARPANET. Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler recounts being the internet’s sole librarian in those early days, and how she helped come up with the rules for future domain names. Paul Mockapetris describes designing the domain name system they later implemented as the internet went from a public network to a private business. And Ben Tarnoff explains the results of that increasingly privatized internet.

If you want to read up on some of our research on the domain name system (DNS), you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Mar 23, 2021
Command Line Heroes Season 7: Internet Class of '95
00:01:44

The internet’s been around for awhile now. And it’s safe to say that it’s changed much of our daily lives. But not so long ago, there were few people who realized how transformative the internet would become. Season 7 of Command Line Heroes looks back at those few who saw the internet’s early potential and forever shaped it during its most formative year: 1995. 

From the origins of e-commerce, to web design, to HTML, to the infrastructure holding it all together around the world, this season highlights the heroes who turned the nascent internet into the vital global network we know today. 

The first episode drops March 23, 2021. Subscribe today and sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates.
 

Mar 09, 2021
Arlan Hamilton: The Investor Who's Opening Doors
00:29:33

If you think hard work is enough to guarantee success, you haven’t been listening. All season long, we’ve profiled Black inventors who haven’t quite been given their due. Arlan Hamilton is helping reverse that trend by leveling the playing field—and changing the venture capital game.

Arlan Hamilton’s story mirrors many we’ve covered this season—overcoming adversity to find success. But she’s also helping redefine what success can look like and, in the process, is helping change the broader tech industry. Janice Omadeke lays out how diversifying the VC community in turn leads to greater diversity among founders receiving funding. Ramona Ortega explains how traditional VC priorities often pass over startups that can be successful. And Scott Myers-Lipton discusses inequality in Silicon Valley (and beyond) and how he’s working to bring about lasting change.

If you want to read up on more of our research on Arlan Hamilton, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript.

If you want to hear more from Arlan, check out her podcast: "Your First Million"." It's about how different people became portfolio companies at Backstage Capital.

Jan 19, 2021
Gladys Perkins: The Pioneer Who Took Us To New Heights
00:28:45

Is the moon made of cheese? Of course not. But can a person walk on the surface? Not too long ago, we couldn’t answer that question. But with the help of Gladys Perkins, we soon figured out that we could send a team to the moon and have them safely land on its surface. 

There was a time when the United States was behind the Soviets in the space race. Everyone had their sights set on the moon. Andrew Chaikin describes NASA’s disastrous Ranger missions. Erik Conway explains how complicated the trajectory calculations were—and to top it all off, why they often couldn’t be done in advance. To succeed, NASA’s new Surveyor program would need the capability to adjust trajectory mid-flight. Gladys Perkins made those calculations possible. But her part in this story hasn’t been well documented. Our editor Kim Huang recounts how difficult it was to get details of her story. And Vahe Peroomian explains how important it is to get these histories told to inspire the next generation to take on moonshot projects.

Finding information about Gladys Perkins was tough. We found some breadcrumbs to her story on this Hughes Aircraft blog.

If you want to read up on some of our research on Gladys Perkins, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript.
 

Jan 05, 2021
Roy Clay: The Entrepreneur Who Transformed an Industry
00:28:23

Roy Clay had to chase after opportunities. But landing a promising position wasn’t the finish line. Roy Clay pushed those opportunities beyond their mandate, transforming an industry in the process.

Kathy Cotton recounts how few opportunities Roy Clay had growing up—but how, later, talk of his genius helped him get his break in the tech industry. Chuck House describes how Clay’s qualifications and experience were just what Hewlett and Packard were looking for. Bill Davidow explains how Clay made his mark at HP building a department, and shaping the strategy for a revolutionary 16-bit minicomputer. And in Clay, Ken Coleman found a role model and mentor. He followed in Clay’s footsteps, and helped expand a legacy of inclusion.

Chuck House interviewed Roy Clay for his blog.

Kathy Cotton featured Roy Clay in her documentary "A Place at the Table." 

Here is the full interview of Roy Clay with Dr. Barbara Canon and Rev. McKnight.

If you want to read up on some of our research on Roy Clay, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript

Dec 22, 2020
Dr. Clarence Ellis: The Developer Who Helped Us Collaborate
00:27:46

It’s not easy to learn how to use computers when you can’t actually touch them. But that’s how Dr. Clarence Ellis started his career of invention—which would ultimately lead to reimagining how we all worked with computers and each other.

Martez Mott describes the “Mother of all Demos” that would inspire a generation of builders. Gary Nutt recounts working with Dr. Clarence Ellis at Xerox PARC, and the atmosphere at the coveted research lab. Chengzheng Sun and Paul Curzon explain how Operational Transformation—the project to which Dr. Ellis devoted so much time and effort—laid the foundation for the collaborative tools many of us use every day. And Delilah DeMers shares how humble her father was, and how he loved teaching people that technology can be a force for good.

“Mother of All Demos” clip courtesy of SRI International. 

To learn more about Operational Transformation, you can check out this FAQ written by Chengzheng Sun. 

If you want to read up on some of our research on Dr. Clarence Ellis, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Dec 08, 2020
Dr. Marc Hannah: The Computer Scientist Who Brought Worlds to Life
00:27:06

Sometimes an inventor designs a device for a specific purpose. Sometimes it’s to try something new. But successful inventions often shape industries beyond those they initially intended. Dr. Marc Hannah built an invention with far bigger effects than anyone could have imagined—like bringing dinosaurs to life, building liquid robots, and letting the Titanic set sail one more time. 

Raqi Syed gives some context on the evolution of special effects in the movie industry. Mark Grossman explains how the graphics world was more than ready for an upgrade. Tom Davis recounts the difficulties that he and his team had getting people to understand what was possible with the Geometry Engine. Luckily, Steve “Spaz” Williams defied his bosses and showed them its power to bring worlds to life, starting with Jurassic Park. Camille Cellucci explains that from then on, everything changed for the movie industry—and for the broader world of graphics.

For more on the history of computer graphics, Mark Grossman recommends this post

Steve "Spaz" Williams shared a short doc about the making of Jurassic Park. 

If you want to read up on some of our research on Dr. Marc Hannah, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Nov 24, 2020
Mark Dean: The Inventor Who Made the Computer Personal
00:26:35

Dr. Mark Dean has a superpower. He wasn’t born with it. He wasn’t exposed to high levels of radiation. It’s a power he learned from his father. And because of it, he was able to revolutionize the personal computer. 

David Bradley explains how in the 1980s, IBM had a reputation for building big, enterprise mainframes. No one believed IBM could make a competitive PC. But that’s exactly what “Project Chess” was tasked with creating. Tony Hey describes the monumental shift in strategy it was for IBM to enter the PC market. Pete Martinez and Dennis Moeller recount their days working with Mark on the skunkworks project. And how IBM's strategy for creating a computer in under a year changed the personal computing industry forever—opening it to innovators outside the walls of IBM. 

Mark Dean holds 3 of the 9 patents for the IBM 5150—the first IBM PC—including the revolutionary ISA bus. He then went on to lead the team that created the first gigahertz microprocessor, and eventually taught at the University of Tennessee. Mwamba Bowa shares her most cherished lesson from the inventor—how to cultivate that super power for herself. 

Clips of Mark Dean courtesy of Susan "Suze" Shaner, Principal of Sage Leadership Strategies, from a Comcast Cable interview, November 2009, and from the American Museum of Science & Energy featured talk, August 2019.

If you want to read up on some of our research on Dr. Mark Dean, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Nov 10, 2020
Dr. Gladys West: The Mathematician Who Reshaped Our World
00:32:10

Aristotle and Eratosthenes are big names in geodesy. They got pretty close to measuring the size of the Earth. But the woman who got it done? She grew up a farmer, dreaming of something bigger. And her work changed how we see the world.

Dr. Gladys West didn’t have much room for error in her quest for higher education. Marvin Jackson recounts the obstacles in her path—and the challenges she faced in her early career. Gavin Schrock traces how geodesy progressed before Dr. West, and how foundational her work was for the GPS systems that followed. Paul Ceruzzi describes the state-of-the-art technology available at Dahlgren that helped Dr. West model the world. Todd Humphreys explains how that model, and the GPS systems that use it, support our way of life in more ways than we realize.

It’s an astounding story that may never have been told if it hadn’t been for Gwen James, Dr. West’s Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sister. She makes the case for telling these stories before they’re lost—because there are definitely more of them out there.

If you want to read up on some of our research on Dr. Gladys West, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Oct 27, 2020
Jerry Lawson: The Engineer Who Changed the Game
00:33:22

Many of us grew up playing cartridge-based games. But there's few who know the story behind how those cartridges came to be. And even fewer who know the story of the man behind them: Jerry Lawson. 

Few people realized how his vision would change video games. Jenny List explains how before Jerry Lawson, a console could only play one game. Benj Edwards describes how Lawson partnered with a pair of engineers to design a console with swappable cartridges. Pong creator Al Alcorn recounts the FCC limitations on Lawson’s Fairchild Channel F—and recognizes Lawson’s immense contributions to the gaming industry. And those in the know, like Jeremy Saucier, advocate for sharing Lawson’s story.

Because Lawson’s story was almost lost, he was recently recognized by Joseph Saulter at the Games Developer’s Conference—thanks to the work of journalist John William Templeton. And his children, Anderson and Karen Lawson, share how passionate Jerry was about electronics—and how much it meant that he finally got the recognition he deserved.

If you want to read up on some of our research on Jerry Lawson, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. Follow along with the episode transcript.

Oct 13, 2020
Command Line Heroes: Meet the Inventors
00:02:13

Inventors don’t always get the credit they deserve, even for world-changing breakthroughs.  

Season 6 of Command Line Heroes tells the stories of ingenious inventors who haven’t been given their full due. These heroes did nothing less than create new industries, dazzle our imaginations, and reshaped the world as we know it.  

The first episode drops on October 13, 2020. Subscribe today and sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates.  

Sep 29, 2020
What Kind Of Coder Will You Become?
00:29:05

The 10x Coder is often positioned as a mythical developer who can always save the day. Saron and Clive investigate how much of that myth is grounded in truth. 

 Greg Sadetsky argues that coding is much like professional sports—some athletes are bound to be much better than those starting out. Brianna Wu and Bonnie Eisenman pick apart the myth by sharing how much they have had to clean up after supposed 10x Coders. Jonathan Solórzano-Hamilton recounts the story of "Rick," a self-proclaimed rockstar developer who assumed too much. And everyone considers the benefits of the 1x Coders—because what use is code without ideas and experiences to guide development?

 If you want to read up on some of our research on 10x coders, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. Follow along with the episode transcript.

Aug 11, 2020
Where Coders Code
00:32:28

Home office. Corporate park. Co-working space. Funland campus. Coders expect options when it comes to their workplace. The relocation of the average workspace from the office to the home has revealed the benefits of working from home—but also highlighted its tradeoffs. 

 Saron Yitbarek and Clive Thompson continue their discussion of coding careers by considering workspaces. Mary Allen Wilkes shares her experience as the first developer to work from home. David Heinemeier Hansson argues remote work gives his colleagues time for deep thinking. Dave West explains why he believes face-to-face work still produces the best results. And Maude Mensah Simpson weighs the freedoms of the home office against missing opportunities for in-person interactions.

 If you want to read up on some of our research on workspaces, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. Follow along with the episode transcript.

Jul 28, 2020
Becoming a Coder
00:33:18

Command line heroes are software engineers, developers, programmers, systems administrators—coders. That variety in coding careers is almost as varied as the paths coders take to land their jobs. 

 Saron Yitbarek and Clive Thompson start the season by exploring some ways coders start their tech careers—some common, many unexpected. Many choose to start with a degree in computer science. But don’t underestimate the maturing bootcamp tracks, the mid-to-late-career switchers, and coders from outside the insulated tech hubs. You might be surprised who answers the call to code, where they come from—and how much they’ve already accomplished.

 If you want to read up on some of our research on coding careers, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. Follow along with the episode transcript.

Jul 14, 2020
Introducing Season 5 of Command Line Heroes
00:02:39

After four seasons of epic tales about how command line heroes have shaped the tech landscape, we're tackling a new topic: the job itself. 

 Season 5 covers the job of being a coder. How coding careers begin. How the job is done. How it’s changed. And how coders are shaping its evolution.

Clive Thompson, tech journalist and friend of the podcast, joins us for this 3-episode mini-season. Clive shares his insights from the over 200 interviews he’s conducted with coders: programmers, developers, software engineers, sysadmins, and more. The first episode drops July 14, 2020. Subscribe today and sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates.

 Head over to redhat.com/commandlineheroes to catch up on seasons 1-4.

Jun 30, 2020
One More Thing with Steve Wozniak
00:22:39

Steve Wozniak (aka Woz) has had a tremendous effect on the world of hardware. Season 4 features many of the devices he’s designed, built, worked on, and been inspired by. But for Woz, what’s most important isn’t necessarily the devices he’s created—it’s how he built them. 

 Woz recounts how his early tinkering led to a lifelong passion for engineering. He started learning about computers on a GE 225 in high school. Soon enough, he was designing improvements to computers he wanted to buy—eventually defining his mantra for simplicity in design. That philosophy helped him finish the Apple I after seeing the Altair 8800 at the Homebrew Computer Club, and to create the floppy drive for the Apple II. But what he’s proudest of these days is the recognition for his engineering accomplishments—and sharing them with the world.

Follow along with the episode transcript.

May 04, 2020
Consoles: The Dreamcast's Life After Death
00:33:00

Gaming consoles are pioneering machines. The Dreamcast pushed the limits of what even consoles could do. But that wasn’t enough to guarantee commercial success. Despite that failure, fans say no other console has accomplished so much. 

 The Dreamcast was meant to restore Sega to its glory days. After the disappointing Saturn, Sega pitted two teams against each other to build a new console. Andrew Borman describes the Dreamcast as a generational leap in hardware. Jeremy Parish explains how big a departure its production was from Sega’s usual processes. Mineko Okamura provides an insider’s insight on developing the Dreamcast. Brian Bacino recounts the console’s massive U.S. launch. But despite record U.S. sales, Sega had to pull the plug on the Dreamcast. Too good to let die, homebrewers like Luke Benstead plugged it back in.

  If you want to read up on some of our research on the Dreamcast, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. You’ll find extra content for every episode.  

 Slight correction: While the Dreamcast did have a keyboard and mouse available, it did not have a full keyboard controller. 

  Follow along with the episode transcript.

Apr 21, 2020
Open Source Hardware: Makers Unite
00:30:58

People never stop tinkering. Hardware hacking didn’t disappear after personal computers became mainstream. But it did change. A new generation of artists, designers, and activists are banding together to change the world—with open source hardware. 

 Hardware hacking used to be expensive and time-consuming. Adaptable microcontrollers are making tinkering much easier. But even as the barriers to entry started falling, the practices around selling hardware have continued to veer toward secrecy. Ayah Bdeir, Alicia Gibb, and Limor Fried are working to keep hardware open. These leaders share how they helped build the open source hardware movement, and navigated fierce disagreements to make engineering accessible to all.

 If you want to read up on some of our research on open source hardware, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. You’ll find extra content for every episode. Follow along with the episode transcript.

Apr 07, 2020
Smarter Phones: Journey to the Palm-Sized Computer
00:30:41

Few could imagine what a handheld computer would look like—or even do. But a trio of visionaries saw where computing was headed. To succeed in this new frontier, though, they would need to create everything from scratch, and throw out the conventional wisdom on hardware.

  Their creation, the PalmPilot, went on to break sales records. It showed the world what was possible and it helped people realize that the value in tech was shifting once again. But when the tech bubble burst and new competitors entered the market, Palm’s grip on the handheld computing industry began to slip.

   If you want to read up on some of our research on smart phones, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. You’ll find extra content for every episode. 

 Follow along with the episode transcript.

Mar 24, 2020
Floppies: The Disks that Changed the World
00:36:35

The floppy disk was one of the greatest breakthroughs in computing. It helped spin up the software industry with a format that endured for decades. And in some cases, it’s conserved treasures once thought to be lost forever. 

 Before floppy disks came along, computing was weighed down by punch cards and magnetic tapes. Steven Vaughan-Nichols describes the magnitude of the changes brought by the floppy disk. Dave Bennet explains how the need for permanent storage, which was also easily mailable, led to the first 8-inch drives. George Sollman recalls how he was tasked with creating a smaller floppy, and what unexpected sources inspired the next design. And when Sollman showed it to the Homebrew Computer Club, a couple of this season’s usual suspects asked him to see more. And the rest is history. 

 Or is it? Matthew G. Kirschenbaum points out that floppy disks are still in use in some unexpected places. And Jason Scott and Tony Diaz tell us how they brought some source code from the sneakernet to the cloud.

 If you want to read up on some of our research on floppy disks, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. You’ll find extra content for every episode. Follow along with the episode transcript.

Mar 10, 2020
Personal Computers: The Altair 8800 and the Dawn of a Revolution
00:32:27

The Altair 8800 is why we have computers in most homes today. It was initially designed for hobbyists. But a few visionaries saw massive potential in this strange little machine—and worked hard to make others see it too. What they created led to so much more than anyone could have ever imagined. Forrest Mims tells us how his co-founder, Ed Roberts, planned to save their struggling electronics company. His idea? A microcomputer made for hobbyists. That computer led to a fateful phone call from Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Dan Sokol and Lee Felsenstein recall the unveiling of the Altair 8800 at the Homebrew Computer Club, and how it sparked Steve Wozniak’s eureka moment for the Apple I. We then hear from John Markoff about an infamous software heist that set the stage for the debate about whether code should be proprietary. And finally, Limor Fried reflects on how this story continues to influence today’s open source hardware movement.

 If you want to read up on some of our research on personal computers, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. You’ll find extra content for every episode. Follow along with the episode transcript .

Feb 25, 2020
Mainframes: The GE 225 and the Birth of BASIC
00:30:20

The computing industry started booming after World War II. General Electric’s CEO refused to enter that market. But a small team of rebel employees bent the rules to forge on in secret. They created the GE 225. It was a giant leap in engineering that pushed computing from a niche market to the mainstream—sowing the seeds for today’s tech industry. Before the creation of general-purpose mainframes, computers were often built to perform a single function. William Ocasio recalls how GE’s first specialized computers, the ERMA, helped banks process thousands of transactions per day. John Joseph recounts how a few key GE employees hoodwinked their CEO into creating a computing department. Tomas Kellner explains how their work resulted in a revolutionary machine—the GE 225. And Joy Lisi Rankin describes how engineers at Dartmouth College adapted the GE 225 for time-sharing and used it to create BASIC—major milestones in making computing more accessible.

 If you want to read up on some of our research on mainframes, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes . You’ll find extra content for every episode. Follow along with the episode transcript.

Feb 11, 2020
Minicomputers: The Soul of an Old Machine
00:29:30

They don’t fit in your pocket. But in their day, minicomputers were an order of magnitude smaller than the room-sized mainframes that preceded them. And they paved the way for the personal computers that could fit in a bag and, eventually, the phones in your pocket.

16-bit minicomputers changed the world of IT in the 1970s. They gave companies the opportunity for each engineer to have their own machines. But it wasn’t quite enough, not until the arrival of 32-bit versions.

Carl Alsing and Jim Guyer recount their work at Data General to create a revolutionary new 32-bit machine. But their now legendary work was done in secret. Codenamed “Eagle,” their machine was designed to compete with one being built by another team in their own company. These engineers recall the corporate politics and intrigue required to keep the project going—and how they turned restrictions into advantages. Neal Firth discusses life on an exciting-but-demanding project. One where the heroes worked together because they wanted to, without expectations of awards or fame. And all three discuss how this story was immortalized in the non-fiction engineering classic, The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder.

 If you want to read up on some of our research on minicomputers, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. You’ll find extra content for every episode. Follow along with the episode transcript.

Jan 28, 2020
Introducing Season 4 of Command Line Heroes
00:02:29

No one ever said hardware was easy. In Season 4, Command Line Heroes is telling 7 special stories about people and teams who dared to change the rules of hardware and in the process changed how we all interact with technology. 

The first episode drops January 28, 2020. Subscribe today and sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates and bonus content.

Jan 14, 2020
The C Change
00:25:35

C and UNIX are at the root of modern computing. Many of the languages we’ve covered this season are related to or at least influenced by C. But C and UNIX only happened because a few developers at Bell Labs created both as a skunkworks project. Bell Labs was a mid-twentieth century center for innovation. Jon Gertner describes it as an “idea factory.” One of their biggest projects in the 1960s was helping build a time-sharing operating system called Multics. Dr. Joy Lisi Rankin explains the hype around time-sharing at the time—it was described as potentially making computing accessible as a public utility. Large teams devoted years of effort to build Multics—and it wasn’t what they had hoped for. Bell Labs officially moved away from time-sharing in 1969. But as Andrew Tanenbaum recounts, a small team of heroes pushed on anyways. C and UNIX were the result. Little did they know how much their work would shape the course of technology.

That's all for Season 3. If you want to dive deeper into C and UNIX, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. You’ll find extra content for every episode. Follow along with the episode transcript. Subscribe to the newsletter for more stories and to be among the first to see announcements about the podcast. See you soon for Season 4.

Oct 01, 2019
Talking to Machines: LISP and the Origins of A.I.
00:26:59

Creating a machine that thinks may have seemed like science fiction in the 1950s. But John McCarthy decided to make it a reality. And he started with a language he called LISP. Colin Garvey describes how McCarthy created the first language for AI. Sam Williams covers how early interest in thinking machines spread from academia to the business world, and how—after certain projects didn’t deliver on their promises—a long AI winter eventually set in. Ulrich Drepper explains that the dreams of AI went beyond what the hardware could deliver at the time.

But hardware gets more powerful each and every day. Chris Nicholson points out that today’s machines have enough processing power to handle the resource requirements of AI—so much so that we’re in the middle of a revolutionary resurgence in AI research and development. Finally, Rachel Thomas identifies the languages of AI beyond LISP—evidence of the different kinds of tasks AI is now being prepared to do.

If you want to dive deeper into LISP and the origins of artificial intelligence, you can check out all our bonus material over at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. You’ll find extra content for every episode.

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Sep 17, 2019
Heroes in a Bash Shell
00:27:34

Shells make large-scale IT possible. They’re a necessary component to modern computing. But it might not have turned out that way without a lot of hard work from a developer at the Free Software Foundation named Brian Fox. Now, the Bash shell is shipped with almost every computer in the world.

In the ‘70s, Bell Labs wanted to automate sequences of repetitive, complex commands. Chet Ramey describes how Bell developed several shells—but there could be only one officially supported shell for UNIX. Enter the Bourne shell. Though it was the best of that crop, the Bourne shell had its limits. And it was only available with a limited UNIX license. Brian J. Fox recounts his time at the Free Software Foundation where he needed to create a free—as in speech—version of the Bourne shell. It had to be compatible without using any elements of the original source code. That Bourne-Again Shell, aka Bash, is possibly the most widely used software in the planet. And Taz Brown describes how it’s one of the most important tools a developer can learn to use.

You can dive deeper into the story of Bash, or any of the programming languages we cover this season, if you head over to the show’s site at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Follow along with the episode transcript.

Sep 03, 2019
The Infrastructure Effect: COBOL and Go
00:26:41

Languages used for IT infrastructure don’t have expiration dates. COBOL’s been around for 60 years—and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We maintain billions of lines of classic code for mainframes. But we’re also building new infrastructures for the cloud in languages like Go.

COBOL was a giant leap for computers to make industries more efficient. Chris Short describes how learning COBOL was seen as a safe long-term bet. Sixty years later, there are billions of lines of COBOL code that can’t easily be replaced—and few specialists who know the language. Ritika Trikha explains that something must change: Either more people must learn COBOL, or the industries that rely on it have to update their codebase. Both choices are difficult. But the future isn’t being written in COBOL. Today’s IT infrastructure is built in the cloud—and a lot of it is written in Go. Carmen Hernández Andoh shares how Go’s designers wanted a language more suited for the cloud. And Kelsey Hightower points out that languages are typically hyper-focused for one task. But they’re increasingly open and flexible.

You can learn more about COBOL or Go, or any of the languages we’re covering this season, by heading over to redhat.com/CommandLineHeroes.

We're passing along a correction that Carmen Hernández Andoh shared on Twitter: she misspoke about Rob Pike inventing ASCII. Bob Bremer is considered the main creator of ASCII.

Follow along with the episode transcript

Aug 20, 2019
Diving for Perl
00:27:53

Languages come and go. A few have the right stuff to rise to the top—and fewer stay there. Perl had a spectacular rise, a quiet slump, and has now found its place in the world of programming.

Perl seemed destined to rule the web. Michael Stevenson and Mike Bursell describe how Perl’s design made it ideal for the early web. We hear from Conor Myhrvold about its motto: “There is more than one way to do it.” Elizabeth Mattijsen shares how—despite Perl’s strength—a long development cycle slowed Perl’s growth. And although it’s not the top web language anymore, John Siracusa points out that Perl lives on as a niche tool.

If you want to dive deeper into the story of Perl, head on over to redhat.com/commandlineheroes.

Guest John Siracusa also co-hosts three podcasts. Check out Accidental Tech Podcast, Reconcilable Differences, and Robot or Not?

Aug 06, 2019
Creating JavaScript
00:26:55

A mission to set the course of the world wide web in its early days. 10 days to get it done. The result? An indispensable language that changed everything.

JavaScript was the underdog that won against all odds. Clive Thompson recounts the browser wars and how much the fallout influenced the future of the internet. Charles Severance explains how JavaScript went from a last-minute moonshot to the default web development language. Michael Clayton confesses he, like many others, underestimated JavaScript. And Klint Finley describes a gloomy internet without it.

If you want to dive deeper into the story of JavaScript, head on over to redhat.com/commandlineheroes

We first mentioned JavaScript's story in Episode 2 of Season 2—and made a slight correction to the story in this episode.

To learn even more about those 10 days, check out the DevChat podcast interview with Brendan.

Jul 23, 2019
Learning the BASICs
00:25:53

Becoming a programmer used to require a Ph.D. and having access to some serious hardware. Then, in 1965, a couple of engineers had a radical idea: make it easier for people to get started.

Beginner languages, like BASIC, burst the doors to coding wide open. Tom Cormen and Denise Dumas recall how BASIC changed everything. Avi Flombaum and Saron share tips on picking a first language in this new era of software development. And we hear from Femi Owolade-Coombes and Robyn Bergeron about how the next generation of coders are getting their start with video games.

Beginner languages give everyone an opportunity to get their foot in the door. And that helps the industry as a whole.

Check out redhat.com/commandlineheroes for more information on beginner languages.

Find out more about why BASIC is a beloved first language and how the next generation will learn to code on Opensource.com.

Jul 09, 2019
Python’s Tale
00:28:06

A benevolent dictator for life steps down and changes the course of the Python language forever. Guido van Rossum’s “Transfer of Power” memo brings attention to the way programming languages evolve.

In this episode, Emily Morehouse makes the connection between Python’s technical extensibility and its inclusive community. Michael Kennedy explains how Python is both easy to learn and powerful enough to build YouTube and Instagram. And Diane Mueller highlights how the Python community took the lead on so many inclusive practices that are spreading in tech—including the rise of community-led decision-making.

Sometimes, a benevolent dictator can get a language started. But Python shows it’s communities that make languages thrive.

Learn more about Python at redhat.com/commandlineheroes

Also check out these Python podcasts that guest Michael Kennedy is part of — Talk Python to Me, and Python Bytes

We hear from Guido van Rossum in this episode from a Computer History Museum interview.

Jun 25, 2019
Introducing Season 3 of Command Line Heroes
00:02:30

Command Line Heroes is back for Season 3. We’re exploring the epic history of programming languages and how communities affect their development. We're talking Python, learning about JavaScript, and diving into Perl. And that’s just our “Hello, World” for Season 3.

The first episode drops June 25. Subscribe today and sign up for the newsletter. Head over to redhat.com/commandlineheroes to catch up on seasons 1 and 2. Check out all the additional content while you're there.

Jun 11, 2019
Open Curiosity: NASA, Mars, and Beyond
00:28:16

The best and brightest took us to the moon with the computing power of pocket calculators. Now they’re taking us farther—and they’re doing it with the tech we’ve been talking about all season. Open source is taking us to Mars.

The Season 2 finale takes us to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Tom Soderstrom shares how much JPL has gained by embracing open source. Hila Lifshitz-Assaf explains that NASA is solving some of their greatest problems with open software and crowdsourcing. And Dan Wachspress describes how working with NASA means proprietary companies need to make some sacrifices—but they get to work on the most innovative projects in the world.

The explorers of the final frontier are choosing to work in the open—and Mars is their destination. What’s next?

And while this may mark the end of Season 2, it's not really goodbye because we still want to hear from you. Reach out to us at redhat.com/commandlineheroes—we'd love to hear what you thought of this season.

Dec 18, 2018
Bonus: Developer Advocacy Roundtable
00:29:17

Developer advocates play important roles in open source communities. We brought a few of them together to explain how and why they do what they do.

Sandra Persing (Mozilla), Ricky Robinett (Twilio), and Robyn Bergeron (Red Hat) sit down with Saron to share what they’re working on, how they support their communities, and what they’re looking forward to in 2019.

Meanwhile, Season 3 of Command Line Heroes is already in the works. You can be one of the first to learn about new episodes when they drop this spring. If you haven't already, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. It's one click, and it's 100% free.

Season 1 and 2 are also available for your listening pleasure while you wait! Listen at redhat.com/en/command-line-heroes.

Dec 17, 2018
At Your Serverless: Development Empowerment with Control
00:28:04

What does serverless really mean? Of course there are still servers—the basics of the internet aren’t changing. But what can developers accomplish when someone else handles the servers?

Serverless computing makes it easy for beginners to deploy applications and makes work more efficient for the pros. Andrea Passwater shares how convenient it can be to abstract away (or remove from view) the infrastructure components of development. But as with any convenience, going serverless has tradeoffs. Rodric Rabbah explains that going serverless can mean giving up control of your deployment and restricts your ability to respond to problems—which is why he helped create Apache OpenWhisk, an open source serverless environment framework. And Himanshu Pant considers when to use serverless services.

Serverless computing should be about developer empowerment. But we have to stay curious about the big picture—even as we simplify our toolbox.

If you want to dive deeper into the question of serverless development—or any of the subjects we’ve explored this season—check out the resources waiting for you at redhat.com/commandlineheroes. While you’re there, you can even contribute to our very own Command Line Heroes game.

Dec 04, 2018
The Data Explosion: Processing, Storage, and the Cloud
00:26:31

Big data is going to help solve big problems: how we grow food; how we deliver supplies to those in need; how we cure disease. But first, we need to figure out how to handle it.

Modern life is filled with connected gadgets. We now produce more data in a day than we did over thousands of years. Kenneth Cukier explains how data has changed, and how it’s beginning to change us. Dr. Ellen Grant tells us how Boston Children’s Hospital is using open source software to transform mountains of data into individualized treatments. And Sage Weil shares how Ceph’s scalable and resilient cloud storage helps us manage the data flood.

Gathering information is key to understanding the world around us. Big data is helping us expand our never-ending mission of discovery.

For more about the projects mentioned in this episode, like ChRIS, visit redhat.com/commandlineheroes.

Nov 20, 2018
The One About DevSecOps: Evolving Security and Reliability
00:25:56

Bad security and reliability practices can lead to outages that affect millions. It’s time for security to join the DevOps movement. And in a DevSecOps world, we can get creative about improving security.

Discovering one vulnerability per month used to be the norm. Now, software development moves quickly thanks to agile processes and DevOps teams. Vincent Danen tells us how that’s led to a drastic increase in what’s considered a vulnerability. Jesse Robbins, the former master of disaster at Amazon, explains how companies prepare for catastrophic breakdowns and breaches. And Josh Bressers, head of product security at Elastic, looks to the future of security in tech.

We can’t treat security teams like grumpy boogeymen. Hear how DevSecOps teams bring heroes together for better security.

These changes mean different things for everyone involved, and we’d love to hear your take. Drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Nov 06, 2018
Fail Better: Embracing Failure
00:27:16

Failure is the heartbeat of discovery. We stumble a lot trying new things. The trick is to give up on failing fast. Instead, fail better.

This episode looks at how tech embraces failure. Approaching failure with curiosity and openness is part of our process. Jennifer Petoff shares how Google has built a culture of learning and improvement from failure. With a shift in perspective, Jessica Rudder shows how embracing mistakes can lead to unexpected successes. And Jen Krieger explains how agile frameworks help us plan for failure.

Failure doesn’t have to be the end. It can be a step to something greater.

If you want to learn more about open source culture and how we can all change the culture around failing, check out some of the blog features waiting for you at redhat.com/commandlineheroes.

Oct 23, 2018
Ready to Commit: Contributing to Open Source
00:26:15

Looking to get into open source but not sure where to start? Are you a contributor trying to understand why only some pull requests get accepted? Or are you a maintainer who’s feeling overwhelmed?

This episode looks at what it means to commit to an open source project. We follow our heroes as they progress through the roles of open source contributors: from finding projects and contributing to them, to building and maintaining thriving communities. Shannon Crabill shares how she got her start in open source at Hacktoberfest 2017, and Corinne Warnshuis describes how important it is to include people from all backgrounds to create good software. There are many ways to contribute to open source. Let’s walk through this together.

For more about the characters, history, and stories of this episode, visit redhat.com/commandlineheroes. While there, check out how you can contribute to hero-engine and Command Line Heroes: The Game — all levels welcome.

Oct 09, 2018
Hello, World: Programming Languages for the Polyglot Developer
00:27:57

Every new programming language is created to do something previously impossible. Today, there are quite a few to choose from. But which ones do you really need to know?

This episode dives into the history of programming languages. We recognize the genius of “Amazing Grace,” also known as Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. It’s thanks to her that developers don’t need a PhD in mathematics to write their programs in machine code. We’re joined by Carol Willing of Project Jupyter, former Director of the Python Software Foundation, and Clive Thompson, a contributor to The New York Times Magazine and Wired who’s writing a book about how programmers think.

Reminder: this season we’re building our very own, open source Command Line Heroes game. And you are invited to contribute—in whatever way makes sense for you. Visit Command Line Heroes: The Game over on GitHub for more info.

And drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Sep 24, 2018
Press Start: How Gaming Shapes Development
00:27:28

Before the terms 'open source' and 'internet' were even coined—there were gamers. They created proto-open source communities, sharing and building upon each other’s work. For many programmers, gaming led them to their careers.

In this episode, we explore the creative free-for-all of early game development over ARPANET. Game development brings together a massive mix of creative and programming talent. But while creating video games started as an open process, a lot has changed. Hear how you can get involved in building our very own Command Line Heroes game—and in the spirit of games, hunt around for this episode’s Easter egg.

Check out Command Line Heroes: The Game over on GitHub.

And please let us know what you think of the show by providing a rating or review in Apple Podcasts. Or simply drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Sep 11, 2018
Introducing Season 2 of Command Line Heroes
00:01:41

In Season 2 of Command Line Heroes, we’re living on the command line, tracking the changes that shape the world of open source development. We’re discovering the origins of programming languages; mastering the art of making a pull request; learning about supercomputers, hybrid clouds, and more. Where does that lead us? Great heights and beyond.

Episode 1 launches September 11th. Listen for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you do your thing.

Drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Aug 28, 2018
Days of Future_Open
00:27:43

Imagine a world where open source never caught on, where no one thought it’d be a good idea to make source code available to anyone. In this episode, we imagine this bizarre possibility. And we celebrate the open source tools and methodologies that got us where we are today.

Join us as we wrap up Season 1, an almost 30,000-foot view of how the open source world came to be. Next season, we’re zooming in and focusing on the epic struggles of today’s command line heroes.

Please let us know what you think of the show by providing a rating or review in Apple Podcasts. Drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Mar 27, 2018
Crack the Cloud_Open
00:29:02

“There is no cloud. It's just someone else's computer.” Or server, to be exact. Big cloud providers offer a relatively easy way to scale out workloads. But what’s the real cost?

In this episode, we talk about the battle in the clouds, where any winner is still very much up in the air. Major Hayden, Microsoft’s Bridget Kromhout, and others help us understand the storm that’s brewing and where that leaves open source developers.

Please let us know what you think of the show by providing a rating or review in Apple Podcasts. Drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Mar 13, 2018
The Containers_Derby
00:25:27

The rise of Container technologies opens a new frontier for developers, simplifying the movement of work from machine to machine. As Containers become more popular, though, a new battle emerges. This race is for the control of orchestration and involves the industry’s fastest, strongest players.

Containers are one of the most important evolutions in the open-source movement and in this episode, featured guests Kelsey Hightower, Google developer advocate, and Laura Frank, Docker Captain and Director of Engineering at Code Ship, along with others, explain how this new technology is the building blocks of the future.

Please let us know what you think of the show by providing a rating or review in Apple Podcasts.

Drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Feb 27, 2018
DevOps_Tear Down That Wall
00:24:39

As the race to deliver applications ramps up, the wall between development and operations comes crashing down. When it does, those on both sides learn to work together like never before.

But what is DevOps, really? Developer guests, including Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman and Cindy Sridharan (better known as @copyconstruct) think about DevOps as a practice from their side of the wall, while members from various operations teams explain what they’ve been working to defend. Differences remain but with DevOps, teams are working better than ever. And this episode explores why that matters for the command line heroes of tomorrow.

Read Cindy Sridharan's attempt to demystify DevOps.

And check out Gordon Haff's take on how to improve DevOps here.

Feb 13, 2018
The Agile_Revolution
00:27:26

It's the turn of the 21st century. Open source software is changing the tech landscape. But new patterns of work have now become necessary. Developers search for a revolutionary approach that will allow open source development to flourish. A group of developers convenes at a ski resort in Utah to craft such an approach. What emerges is a manifesto that changes everything.

Dave Thomas, one of the authors of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, brings us back to that now famous retreat where the agile revolution was first organized. Not everyone was as quick to sign on to this new approach, though, and in this episode, we hear why.

Read Ruha Devanesan's take on agile's ability to harness diversity here.

Please let us know what you think of the show by providing a rating or review in Apple Podcasts.

Drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Jan 30, 2018
OS Wars_part 2: Rise of Linux
00:27:38

It's the 1990s. The empire of Microsoft controls 90% of users. Complete standardization of operating systems seems assured. But an unlikely hero arises from amongst the band of open source rebels. Linus Torvalds—meek, bespectacled—releases his Linux O.S. free of charge. While Microsoft reels and regroups, the battleground shifts from personal computers to the Internet.

Acclaimed tech journalist Steven Vaughan-Nichols is joined by a team of veterans who relive the tech revolution that reimagined our future. Editor's Note: A previous version of this episode featured a short clip with Jon “maddog” Hall. It has been removed at his request.

Please let us know what you think of the show by providing a rating or review in Apple Podcasts.

Drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Jan 16, 2018
OS Wars_part 1
00:28:57

The O.S. Wars. The 1980s is a period of mounting tensions. The empires of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs careen toward an inevitable battle over proprietary software—only one empire can emerge as the purveyor of a standard operating system for millions of users. Gates has formed a powerful alliance with IBM while Jobs tries to maintain the purity of his brand. Their struggle for dominance threatens to engulf the galaxy. Meanwhile, in distant lands, and unbeknownst to the Emperors, open source rebels have begun to gather…

Veterans from computer history, including Andy Hertzfeld, from the original Macintosh team, and acclaimed tech journalist Steven Levy, recount the moments of genius, and tragic flaws, that shaped our technology for decades to come.

Please let us know what you think of the show by providing a rating or review in Apple Podcasts.

Drop us a line at redhat.com/commandlineheroes, we're listening...

Jan 16, 2018
Preview_CLH
00:01:34

Introducing a show about the developers, programmers, hackers, geeks, and open source rebels who are shaping our digital future.

Dec 01, 2017