What is Unix?

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What is Unix? ‘“ A Brief History

The Unix is an operating system ‘“ a multi-user environment that has been applied to different platforms. This powerful operating system was developed in Bell Labs in 1969. In the past few decades, other developers contributed to its advancement. Two people are behind this interactive time-sharing system ‘“ Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie.

The name Unix was just a clever remark for the earlier system Multics and was actually written as Unics (UNiplexed Information and Computing System) at first. In 1974, it was the first system to be written in the C language. Developers have made the operating system evolved as a kind of freeware product.

Different companies, individuals and universities provided new ideas and variety of versions of Unix. Since Unix is a freeware, which means it was not a proprietary owned by any developer, it was the first standard or open operating system that could be improved by anyone. For ten years, Bell Labs develops the Unix.

Early 1980s, industry analysts and researchers began to take notice of the Unix for its market had unbelievably grown. Developers began to analyze if the Unix system is suitable for business, commerce and other applications. The Unix’s concept as a just a mere system had been changed on how it is going to be useful in other applications.

In 1984, the concept of open systems was developed. This was brought out by the concern of a group of vendors about the large companies controlling the market and as well as the system interfaces. The formation of the group called X/Open Company Ltd was the result. The group stressed that open systems would save on costs and therefore will attract larger selection of applications and competition in even terms.

Since Unix has been developed into many versions, the X/Open group thought of using just a single standard version of Unix. However, since there are several versions, they were thinking of ‘which version’ would apply to a wider interest of the industry as well as its customers. At that time, Unix was still owned by the AT&T company and did little in terms of the system’s commercialization.

In 1987, AT&T announced a deal with another giant in the industry, the Sun Microsystems. Sun Microsystems is a leading proponent of Berkeley derived strain of Unix. This pact between the two companies made other players in the industry concerned. They believe that the deal will threaten their own markets and so they teamed up to develop a new open systems operating system. The group was known as the Open Software Foundation (OSF) and the AT&T and Sun Microsystems formed Unix International in response.

This resulted into Unix wars where industry vendors have been divided into two camps. AT&T introduced the System V and the OSF group has their own version called OSF/1. However, in the midst of the Unix wars, X/Open group remained in the middle and continued to develop standardized APIs.
In 1993, Novell bought the Unix System Laboratories of AT&T, which was later on bought by SCO in 1995. The X/Open group had also introduced Unix 95 in the same year. Until now, the development of Unix continues to evolve.

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