The following story of the origin of the tenth anniversary Usenix T-shirt was related by Mike O'Brien, who was living in Chicago in 1976 when this story begins. Also living in Chicago was comic artist Phil Foglio, whose star was just beginning to rise. At that time Mike was a bonded locksmith. Phil's roommate had unexpectedly split town, and he was the only one who knew the combination to the wall safe in their apartment. This apartment was the only one Mike had ever seen that had a wall safe, but it sure did have one, and Phil had stuff locked in there. Mike didn't hold out much hope, since safes were far beyond his locksmithing sphere of competence, but he figured ``no guts, no glory'' so he told Phil that he would give it a whack. In return, Mike requested T-shirt art. Phil readily agreed.
Wonder of wonders, this safe was vulnerable to the same algorithm to which Master locks used to be susceptible. Mike opened it after about 15 minutes of manipulation. It was his greatest moment as a locksmith and Phil was overjoyed. Mike went down to his lab and shot some Polaroid snaps of the PDP-11 system on which he was running UNIX at the time, and gave them to Phil with some descriptions of the visual puns he wanted: pipes, demons with forks running along the pipes, a "bit bucket" named /dev/null, all that.
What Phil came up with is the artwork that graced the first decade's worth of "UNIX T-shirts", which were made by a Ma-and-Pa operation in a Chicago suburb. They turned out transfer art using a 3M color copier in their basement. Hence, the PDP-11 is reversed (the tape drives are backward), but since Phil left off the front panel, this error was hard to detect. His trademark signature was photo-reversed, but was recopied by the T-shirt people and "re-forwardized,"--which is why it looks a little funny compared to his real signature.
Dozens and dozens of these shirts were produced. Bell Labs alone accounted for an order of something like 200 for a big picnic. Each attendee at the June 1985 summer conference held in Portland, Oregon received one of these shirts. However, only four REAL originals were produced: these four have a distinctive red collar and sleeve cuff. One went to Ken, one to Dennis, one to Mike, and one to Mike's then-wife (Mike has two shirts now). Ken and Dennis were presented with their shirts at the Urbana conference.
People ordered these shirts direct from the Chicago couple. Many years later, when Mike was living in LA, he got a call from Armando Stettner, then at DEC, asking about that now-famous artwork. Mike told him that he had not talked to the Illinois T-shirt makers in years. At Armando's request Mike called them up. They had folded the operation years ago and were within days of discarding all the old artwork. Mike requested its return, and duly received it back in the mail. It looked strange, in its original form -- the mirror image of the image on the shirts with which everyone else was now familiar.
Mike sent the artwork to Armando, who wanted to give it to the Ultrix marketing people. They came out with the Ultrix poster that showed a nice shiny Ultrix machine contrasted with the chewing-gum-and-string PDP-11 UNIX with which people were familiar. They still have the artwork, as far as Mike knows.
About 1 year after Usenix produced the Portland conference T-shirts, they paid Phil for the artwork. Thus, Usenix currently holds title to the copyright.
The BSD daemon showed up again on the shirt shown in the second picture for the Usenix multimedia conference held in 1991 in Nashville Tennessee.