It was 40 years ago that out of utter failure, a great success was born!
That failure was Multic, an attempt to create a new and flexible operating system at AT&T's Bell Labs.
The great success, on the other hand, was Unix!
Multic may have failed miserably, but thanks to the work and dedication of two pioneering scientists, Ken Thomson and Denis Ritchie, Unix was born in August of 1969, and now, this very year Unix will celebrating it's 40th. anniversary, a remarkable feat when you consider how many other operating systems have since come and gone in that period!
Unix was, and still is, based on an a free and open philosophy that is described by Wikipedia as:
"...... designed to be portable, multi-tasking and multi-user in a time-sharing configuration. Unix systems are characterized by various concepts: the use of plain text for storing data; a hierarchical file system; treating devices and certain types of inter-process communication (IPC) as files; and the use of a large number of software tools, small programs that can be strung together through a command line interpreter using pipes, as opposed to using a single monolithic program that includes all of the same functionality. These concepts are known as the Unix philosophy."
This all led, in 1975 , to Unix being designated and chosen as the official backbone of a new and little venture known as - the internet! Unix, from day one, was designed for networking, and it was this built-in ability in mind that made it such a natural choice for becoming the backbone of one of the greatest undertakings in all of human history.
Though primarily deployed on mainframes in the beginning, the decision by AT&T to allow it's code to be offered for free helped the new OS to spread it's wings and onto machines of all sizes, including desktops, and as the BBC reported:
"Once it had jumped out of the lab and out of AT&T it caught fire among the academic community,"
Once this happened, Unix gave rise to various offshoots such as BSD, Linux and, of course, OS X, all of which are systems that now can run by just about anybody, rather than just those in big business's, universities and government agencies, and their highly and specially trained computer scientists in their white trench coats.
So, in conclusion, I just want to say "happy 40th. birthday Unix", and a big thank you to all of it's many pioneers, such as Ken Thompson, Denis Ritchie, Joe Ossanna, Doug McIlroy and Brian Kernighan, who, by the way, gave Unix it's name.
It's thanks to the hard work and dedication of these men and women, too many to list here, that we now have the wonders of the web, OS X and the various and numerous Linux distros.
So thanks again guys, and many more happy returns to you Unix, one of the most ancient, and yet, at the same time, one of the most modern, powerful and flexiable OS's ever created!
And that's my 2 cents 4 this Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Unix illustration via: Wikipedia