David Korn: Ksh and the AST Toolkit


The shell is one of the most important components of the UNIX operating system, and one of the most widely used UNIX shells is Ksh, often referred to as Korn Shell. Ksh was introduced nearly 25 years ago at the 1983 UNIX users group conference in Toronto.  The shell is both an interactive command language and a powerful programming language. This talk will present a history of Ksh and the companion AST Toolkit. The AST Toolkit contains Ksh as well as about 200 UNIX commands.


David Korn received a  Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Courant Institute at New York University in 1969 where he worked as a research scientist in the field of transonic aerodynamics until joining Bell Laboratories in September 1976.

He is currently a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in the research division of AT&T Labs.  His primary assignment is to explore directions in software development techniques that improve programming productivity. His best know effort in this area is the Korn shell, ksh, which is a POSIX compatible UNIX shell and a high-level programming language. He is a Bell Labs fellow and an AT&T fellow.

David is one of the principal authors of the AT&T Software Tools package which was recently released in OpenSource form.  The AST Toolkit contains ksh and nmake as well as over 100 POSIX commands.  He also wrote UWIN, (UNIX for Windows) which allows UNIX commands to compile and run on Windows systems. He is currently leading a project to move mainframe MVS Cobol applications to a Linux PC without the need to recode or to reformat the data.