Peter H. Salus


Peter H. Salus
Salus with a Tux pin, at IT-Højskolen in Copenhagen, Denmark, 2002

Peter Henry Salus is a linguist, computer scientist, historian of technology, author in many fields, and an editor of books and journals. He has conducted research in germanistics, language acquisition, and computer languages.

Education and career

Salus has a 1963 PhD in Linguistics from New York University. His dissertation was The Compound Noun in Indo-European: A Survey.[1]

After serving as professor and dean at University of North Florida,[2] University of Toronto,[3][4] University of Massachusetts where in 1967 he was involved in the founding of the Department of Linguistics,[5][6] and Queens College, City University of New York,[7] he is now largely retired.

He has also been Executive Director of both the USENIX Association and the Sun User Group, and Vice President of the Free Software Foundation.[8] He was one of the organizers of the 1996 conference on Freely Redistributable Software in Cambridge.[9] In addition, he has worked for several high tech startups. From 1987 to 1996, he was Managing Editor of the technical journal Computing Systems (MIT Press and the USENIX Association).


In 1966, Salus worked with W. H. Auden on a translation of the Poetic Edda. During his work he discovered that the "Airman's Alphabet" in Auden's work was derived from the Eddic poems or more likely the translation by Bruce Dickins.[10] In December 1965 Salus attended a meeting of the Tolkien Society in New York.[11] Auden and Salus' comments and intentions to write a book on J. R. R. Tolkien were reported by The New Yorker and The Daily Telegraph. However, Tolkien disapproved of a book on himself and was critical of Auden's reported remarks on his house and Salus' observations on the shape of Middle-earth.[12]

He is best known for his books on the history of computing, particularly A Quarter Century of UNIX and Casting The Net (a history of the Internet up to 1995).

Peter Salus at the 1,000,000,000-second UNIX time event, in Copenhagen on 9 September 2001.

Partial bibliography

  • Völuspá : The Song of the Sybil (translated by Paul B. Taylor and W. H. Auden, Icelandic text edited by Peter H. Salus and Paul B. Taylor, 1968)
  • On Language: Plato to von Humboldt (Holt, Reinholt, and Winston, Inc., 1969)[13]
  • Linguistics (Bobbs-Merril, 1969)[14]
  • Pāṇini to Postal: A Bibliography in the History of Linguistics (Linguistic Research, 1971)[15]
  • For W. H. Auden, 21 February 1972 (ed. Peter H. Salus and Paul B. Taylor, 1972)
  • Language and the Language Arts (with James Flood, Prentice-Hall, 1984)[16]
  • A Quarter Century of UNIX (Addison Wesley, 1 June 1994; ISBN 0-201-54777-5)[17]
  • Casting the Net (Addison-Wesley, March 1995; ISBN 0-201-87674-4)[18]
  • Handbook of Programming Languages (ed.; Indianapolis, IN: Macmillan Technical Pub., 1998, LCCN 97-81204; four volumes: ISBN 1-57870-008-6, ISBN 1-57870-009-4, ISBN 1-57870-010-8, ISBN 1-57870-011-6)[19]
  • Big Book of IPv6 Addressing RFCs (Morgan Kaufmann, 2000; ISBN 0-12-616770-2)
  • The Complete April Fools' Day RFCs (Peer-to-Peer Communications LLC, 2007; 978-1-57398-042-5)
  • The Daemon, the Gnu & the Penguin (Reed Media Services, Sept. 2008; ISBN 978-0-9790342-3-7) — previously serialised on the Groklaw website
  • The ARPANET Sourcebook: The Unpublished Foundations of the Internet (Peer-to-Peer Communications LLC, 2008; ISBN 978-1-57398-000-5)


  1. ^ "Abstracts of dissertations", Linguistics, 3 (11): 91–117, 1965, doi:10.1515/ling.1965.3.11.91
  2. ^ A probe of the mysteries of fallible memory, Macleans, 23 February 1981
  3. ^ Unix turns 40: The past, present and future of a revolutionary OS, Computerworld, 4 June 2009
  4. ^ Studies out in Left Field: Defamatory essays presented to James D. McCawley, JohnBenjamins Publishing Company, 1992 reprint of 1971 book, page viii
  5. ^ History of the Department, UMass
  6. ^ A History of the UMass Linguistics Department to 1999, 1999, Barbara Partee
  7. ^ Personalia for 1964-65, Monatshefte, Vol. 57, No. 1 (Jan., 1965), pp. 17-40
  8. ^ "Peter H. Salus - Author, Anniversaries". I'Reilly Conferences. Archived from the original on 16 April 2019.
  9. ^ Free as in Freedom [Paperback: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software], Sam Williams, O'Reilly, page 155-158
  10. ^ W.H. Auden: Contexts for Poetry, Peter Edgerly Firchow, page 241
  11. ^ W. H. Auden: A Biography, Humphrey Carpenter, page 1838
  12. ^ The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien
  13. ^ Reviews of On Language: Plato to von Humboldt:
    • Rocher, Rosane (October–December 1969), Journal of the American Oriental Society, 89 (4): 820, doi:10.2307/596986, JSTOR 596986CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Koerner, E. F. K. (January 1970), Lingua, 25: 419–431, doi:10.1016/0024-3841(70)90049-5CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Zimmer, Karl E. (February 1973), Romance Philology, 26 (3): 592–594, JSTOR 44940729CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  14. ^ Reviews of Linguistics:
    • Blake, Robert W. (March 1970), The English Journal, 59 (3): 431–432, doi:10.2307/812081, JSTOR 812081CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
    • Percival, W. Keith (March 1971), Language, 47 (1): 181–185, doi:10.2307/412195, JSTOR 412195CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  15. ^ Review of Pāṇini to Postal: A Bibliography in the History of Linguistics:
    • Koerner, E. F. K. (November 1973), Foundations of Language, 10 (4): 589–594, JSTOR 25000743CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  16. ^ Review of Language and the Language Arts:
    • Baumann, James F. (April 1984), The Reading Teacher, 37 (8): 786–788, JSTOR 20198599CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  17. ^ Review of A Quarter Century of Unix:
    • Yee, Danny (April 1995), "From Space Travel to Plan 9 and Linux", Linux Journal, 12: Article 11
  18. ^ Review of Casting the Net:
    • Yee, Danny (September 1995), "From ARPANET to Internet and Beyond", Linux Journal, 17: Article 8
  19. ^ Review of Handbook of Programming Languages:
    • Vanderburg, Glenn, "Review", ;login: