The original version of Unix was released fifty years ago by 1969 at Bell Labs, a research and development company owned by AT&T. At that time they were called Unics, since they originally stood for UNIplexed Information and Computing Service.
The operating system began to exist because Bell Labs needed a system to produce standard patent applications. The Unix development team managed to get the newest and most powerful computer DEC PDP / 11 / 20, to develop a standardization program for the creation of patent applications. After that, the use of Unix began to rise steadily for Bell.
1973 has released the 4 version of Unix, rewritten from scratch in the C programming language.
The accompanying manual stated:
"The number of UNIX installations is now over 20 and many more are expected." Here is the first version.)
1973, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, two of Unix's key architects, presented a paper on Unix at a conference. Immediately afterwards they began receiving requests for copies of the operating system.
Due to a consent decree obtained by AT&T from the US government on 1956, AT&T had to remain outside "any other public communications business."
The result was that they could license the operating system from Bell Labs, but they could not develop it as they would like to make a profit. Thus, the Unix operating system was distributed as a licensed source code, and the cost was equal to shipping and packaging. It was a "sensible end".
Because AT&T could not market Unix as a product, it did not market it, and made it available without any marketing. Originally released without support and without bug fixes. Nevertheless it spread to universities, military applications and eventually to the commercial world.
Because Unix had been rewritten in the C programming language, it was relatively easy to move to new computer architectures, and so soon Unix began running on all kinds of hardware in circulation at that time. It had broken the boundaries of the DEC series and could run almost anywhere.
1982, following another consent decree, forced AT&T to relinquish Bell's control, and Bell split into smaller regional companies. But that change has freed AT&T from some of its previous tight bounds. It was now able to formally produce Unix.
1983 increased licensing fees and eventually began supporting the operating system with updates.
It was this move towards commerce that prompted Richard Stallman to create the GNU project, with the goal of writing a version of Unix that was completely free from the AT&T source code. The GNU Project became 36 years old this year.
Of course, those who already had the Unix source code under the previous software license were able to change this version. They modified, and expanded on their own or with the help of communities of Unix users that had emerged as technical teams without AT&T support since the company was initially not releasing updates.
IBM, HP, Sun, Silicon Graphics, and many other hardware vendors all had their own commercial version of Unix or a Unix-like operating system.
Unix has steadily become the operating system for critical environments such as hospitals and banks. Unix was found to supply mainframes and minicomputers to installations of aerospace, automotive and shipbuilding manufacturers, with universities around the world adopting it widely.
Unix installs increased when versions were moved to PCs and especially when its most powerful processor was released Intel 80386 the 1985. Unix was now available on hosts, microcomputers, and personal computers - if you had the money to pay for it.
In the late '80 and early' 90 we saw a prolonged and messy battle about the dominance and standardization between the various flavors of Unix. Obviously, all the stakeholders wanted to be the ones that were considered the working model. Finally, the standards themselves were used to try to solve compatibility problems.
This led to a single UNIX specification (Single UNIX Specification which also includes the POSIX standard). The word "UNIX" capitalized on the Open Group trademark. They are exclusively for operating systems that comply with the UNIX Uniform Specification. Thus, "UNIX" is the trademark while "Unix" refers to a family of operating systems, some of which may be called UNIX.
This is a very compact summary of a period that was probably the most confusing for a potential Unix buyer. Needless to say, unless customers know what they are buying, they are not buying but staying away and keeping up with developments. Sales fell dramatically.
It was a sore season in commercial Unix, but it wasn't deadly. UNIX continues to exist, and this period of disruption has helped to give birth to Linux.
Linux became 28 years old in August of 2019. 1991, Finnish computer student Linus Torvalds did its now famous announcement that it is developing a core operating system as a hobby. His motivation was to learn the architecture of the CPU 386.
Richard Stallman's GNU project contained many of the elements of a Unix operating system, but at its core, GNU Hurd wasn't - and isn't yet - ready for release. Linus Torvald's Linux kernel came to fill that gap.
With the Linux kernel and the GNU operating system tools and utilities, a complete Unix operating system was born. They refer to it as GNU / Linux, and many are only referring to it as Linux.
Since 1991, Linux is becoming more stable and complete as an operating system. So now it offers many different uses with many different functionalities that are basically the same (distributions).
The oldest distribution still under development is the Slackware. It released 1993 and is based on a previous distribution called Softlanding Linux system, which released 1992. Slackware is trying to be closer to Unix.
The rise of Linux
The attraction of a Unix-like operating system, coupled with access to source code, proved to be an exciting idea. Linux is everywhere now.
- Manages the web. W3Techs he says that Linux is used in 70% of Alexa's top 10 million domains.
- Manages the public cloud. In the Amazon EC2, Linux is found on 92% of servers.
- It runs the fastest computers in the world. All 500 faster supercomputers in the world running Linux.
- It goes into space. Its flight computers F run with Linux.
- It's in your pocket. It's at the heart of Google Android. There are currently over 2,5 billion active Android devices. Apple iOS comes from a Unix version developed at the University of California, Berkeley called Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). So, no matter what smartphone manufacturer you use, both are functionally based on data from Unix.
- Do you have a smart gadget in your home? It almost certainly runs with Linux.
- Manage your network. The majority of switches, wireless access points, and routers run on Linux.
- Do you have a VOIP phone in your office or a phone switch in the computer room? Run with Linux.
- It's inside your computer. Even if you don't have a Linux computer, Microsoft has a Linux kernel in the 2.0 version of Windows Subsystem for Linux of Windows 10.
- It's inside cars. Tesla (and other car makers) use Linux in their vehicles.
Elsewhere except for personal computers, Linux dominates.
Is Linux more successful than Unix? What is certain is that more is used, that is, the number of devices running Linux is larger.
So, it seems, Linux killed Unix, or to put it differently, Linux stopped the path of Unix conquering its role.
Unix of course still exists, and it runs on critical infrastructure offering reliability and stability. This will continue until support for applications, operating and new hardware ceases. As for the new installations, there are several variants of Linux that make it difficult to adopt Unix.