Does anyone know where I might find the latest iteration of this story? I read one version when I was in college back in the mid eighties, and my copy got lost a long time ago.
Hmm, the New Hackers’ Dictionary suggests the original by Hastings and Tarr is 1983. See here, here (as Vax Wars) or just a little longer here (collected by Barak Pearlmutter at decvax!cwruecmp!pearlmut):
It is a period of system war. User programs, striking from a hidden directory, have won their first victory against the evil Administrative Empire. During the battle, User spies managed to steal secret source code to the Empire’s ultimate program: the Are-Em Star, a privileged root program with enough power to destroy an entire file structure. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister audit trail, Princess _LPA0: races aboard her shell script, custodian of the stolen listings that could save her people, and restore freedom and games to the network…
There’s an unattributed 1982 DEC Wars posted to net.misc:
Have you ever wondered what happened to all those characters eaten by arpavax? Well, we found most of them loitering around on our system, taking up disk space. So we’re putting them back out on the net where they belong. Any resemblence to events real or imagined is purely intentional.
And here’s " DEC WARS anthology" (a 1982 post to net.sources) by Alan Hastings himself, I think.
I see Eric S Raymond posted in 1983 to misc.wanted and comp.unix.questions a document “Unix Wars” intended as an improvement or sequel or something:
Subject: UNIX Wars! (was: Re: Wanted - DEC WARS)
Summary: Here’s an ‘enhanced version’ I came up with once
If anyone knows who wrote the original ‘DEC Wars’, please tell me…I’d like to try to publish this thing, properly giving credit to the originator.