40 years of Unix history

Old dedicated serverUnix is probably the grandfather of all operating systems, widely used on dedicated servers and workstations, and has spawned a variety of different official and unnofficial* versions. Many of us have fought with the command prompt as it constantly blinks away, every so often mocking our efforts with that unmistakable error sound. Love it or hate it, the Unix operating system is one of the most important pieces in the history of computers.

Starting in 1969 as a yet-to-be-named operating system developed by a handful of AT&T employees for a DEC PDP-7 minicomputer. During the 70s and 80s, the academic circles had their influence on Unix and eventually led to the BSD variant of the OS originating from UC, Berkeley. Designed to be portable with multi-tasking and multi-user capabilities, there are a few concepts that characterize a Unix system like plain text data storage, a hierarchical file syste, and a large number of software tools. Together, these concepts are dubbed Unix Philosophy.

With servers and workstations and their operating systems becoming more and more complicated, it’s interesting to go back and see how it all started with something so (relatively) simple. For a complete 40-year timeline of Unix, please visit this article.

*Only systems fully compliant with and certified to the Single UNIX Specification are qualified to use the UNIX trademark; others are called Unix system-like or Unix-like.