This August, Unix is celebrating it’s 40th birthday, and it’s worth noting that an operating system that old, has been used every decade of it’s existence – and still is. In fact, Unix is gathering more and more attention as the years go by.
Unix was conceived at Bell Labs after AT&T, MIT and GE stopped production on a major project that was an attempt to create an operating system called Multics. Unixs’ purpose was to make better use of mainframe computers and to have them serve many PC’s at one time.
Ken Thompson, one of the primary researchers behind Unix allocated each week of a month, while his wife and daughter were away visiting family, to each of the four core components; the operating system, shell, editor and assembler. When AT&T gave away the software for free, it took off in the academic community almost immediately and growth was huge.
In May 1975 Unix got another boost by becoming the standard operating system for the internet, as laid out in RFC 681. It is notable that Unix had full networking support from the beginning.
After this, Unix, because of it’s flexibility was adapted for use everywhere. From mainframes, to servers, desktops and laptops all around the globe. Unix has been through many different forms, and in many different flavours.
These days, Unix is available in many different shapes and forms. The internet still is mainly comprised of Unix-based servers and Unix philosophy is the main influence on the open source software movements and the Linux operating system. Unix can be found in Windows – which runs the communication stack that was originally created for Unix, and Apple’s OS X is still based on Unix.
So, Happy 40th Birthday Unix!