TRON Project Leader's Opinion

Ken Sakamura

The University Museum, The University of Tokyo

This year is the 15th anniversary of the TRON Project, which officially began in 1984. During those 15 years, while there were successes, there were also things that didn't go well. However, as this is one division in a project that is still in progress, this has become a time to reflect on points that should be reflected on, and to further continue with things that we should proceed with.

What I feel strongly today after the passage of 15 years is that the most important thing in a computer project is continuing for a long time--I feel this keenly. Although one may believe that we have done computer design for a long time, when you struggle to build computers from scratch, it takes time to raise the level of finish. There are as many as 100,000 steps, and there is no program that does not have a bug. It takes a minimum of 10 years until we can make something good, 20 years by the time we have done it over, and 30 years to get it straight the third time.

For instance, Unix, which was born in 1969, has become exactly 30 years old this year. In the 1970s, it had its first boom as an operating system for compact minicomputers, in the 1980s it became part of the Internet infrastructure after the Berkeley version incorporating network functions was created, and in the 1990s movements were born to rewrite it in a form that did not touch things related to the rights to it. One of those became Linux.

Because TRON is still only 15 years old, it has about rounded the bend. In a long-term project, there are meanderings, and it also has a rough time over a long period of time. Even with Unix, this was so. At present, it has an established reputation as a server operating system with a high level of stability, but originally it was treated as a toy operating system for a long time by mainframe operators who said, "we can't use this kind of operating system on site."

With the TRON Project also, there have been all sorts of things; the project has met with interference of powers that cannot be considered agreeable, and it even became entangled in a Super 301 uproar of the United States Trade Representative. When I asked my American friend to comment on this, he said, "The project will go down in history. All the requirements for spreading TRON worldwide have been completed. Ken, congratulations!"

There has been an increase in the number of people launching TRON-related businesses, and the overall trend in the world has moved in line with open architecture. The 21st century is close at hand, and conditions are gradually becoming favorable for TRON. At the time of the Super 301 uproar, I had occasion to wonder how things would go in the future, but now the project has completely regained its footing. The level of finish of the operating systems has also been raised. One could say that the times have caught up with TRON architecture and design without any big changes having been made to the fundamental thinking from 15 years ago. As the 21st century draws near, I am eager to get on with the task of raising the level of finish of the real design through even greater effort.

The above opinion piece by TRON Project Leader Ken Sakamura appeared on page 1 of Vol. 56 of TRONWARE. It was translated and loaded onto this page with the permission of Personal Media Corporation.

Copyright © 1999 Personal Media Corporation

Copyright © 1999 Sakamura Laboratory, University Museum, University of Tokyo