Unix at 50

We are celebrating 50 years of Unix. For very many computer people Unix started it all. Some operating system elicit emotions of love and affection…. And Unix is one of them. Unix  is a family of multitasking, multiuser computer operating systems that derive from the original AT&T Unix. Unix was originally meant to be a convenient platform for programmers developing software to be run on it and on other systems, rather than for non-programmers.“Contrary to popular belief, Unix is user friendly. It just happens to be very selective about who it decides to make friends with.” — unknown

Unix history started in 1969 when two Bell Labs computer scientists were looking for a new research project: Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. Real Unix development started in the 1970s at the Bell Labs research center by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and others.  At first, Unix was not designed to be portableor for multi-tasking. Later, Unix gradually gained portability, multi-tasking and multi-user capabilities that it is known of nowadays. Both Unix and the C programming language were developed by AT&T and distributed to government and academic institutions. By the early 1980s, users began seeing Unix as a potential universal operating system. I started using Unix myself in 1990.

Unix may be a half-century old but its influence is only growing. Unix ideas continue widely in use with various Linux distributions and BSD variations that are used in very many server and embedded applications. Today, it is Unix that also powers iOS and Android.

UNIX Version 0, Running On A PDP-7, In 2019 | Hackaday article tells that with the 50th birthday of the UNIX operating system being in the news of late, there has been a bit of a spotlight shone upon its earliest origins. At the Living Computers museum in Seattle though they’ve gone well beyond a bit of historical inquiry though, because they’ve had UNIX (or should we in this context say unix instead?) version 0 running on a DEC PDP-7 minicomputer

Very cool. And also interesting to see the predecessor to C, the B language in action!
It is interesting to see the original commands still in the OS today.

By the way the original UNIX v7 source is on GitHub at https://github.com/DoctorWkt/pdp7-unix

And there is a project to port that to x86 at http://emma.nfshost.com/v7x86/index.html

Links to more material that has bee used as sources when writing this post:








  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    UNIX was so successful, in fact, that it was difficult for any subsequently developed operating systems (such as Linux, Windows, BSD, Android, iOS and others) to not be influenced by it.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The UNIX legacy is a set of simple and timeless tools that can take years to master but which can perform seeming miracles in seconds in the hands of experienced users or sysadmins or developers.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Y2K38: Everything will crash again!

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    “UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.” — Dennis Ritchie

    #sysadmin #BSD #Linux #IT #devops

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Douglas McIlroy is a professor of computer science, mathematician, engineer and famous programmer. He is one of the original Bell Labs Unix pioneers. You can thank him for UNIX pipelines, diff, sort, tr, and many other commands https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_McIlroy


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