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Type: Time-sharing
Creator: Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy at Bell Labs
Multitasking: Multi-tasking with swapping/paging (latter added in a later version)
Architecture: Originally PDP-7, then PDP-11; now cross-platform.
Date Released: 1969

Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX® - the documentation switched from using 'UNIX' to 'Unix' as of V7) is a computer operating system originally developed in the 1970s by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy.

Today's Unix systems are split into various branches, developed over time by AT&T as well as various commercial vendors and non-profit organizations. A number of clones of Unix, which share the interfaces, and 'look and feel', but no code, have also been produced.

Versions of relevance for hobbyists include:

  • Unix System 1 - The first version of UNIX that has been recently made to run on the PDP-11
  • UNIX V5 - One of first version with known source and binaries available.
  • UNIX V6 - The last version before branches started to appear
  • Unix V7 - One of the most complete and the last generally available and PDP-11 version of Research UNIX
  • Unix/32V - A 32bit port of System 7 to the VAX 11/780.

Unix then went commercial and was sold. Below is an early ad for AT&T UNIX.

Unix ad

CSRG releases

Meanwhile the CSRG kept on releasing newer BSD UNIX's derived from 32v. Descended from there are several popular versions:

  • FreeBSD focuses on providing a system geared towards a single user.
  • NetBSD will run on a variety of 32-bit older systems from the VAX to the Amiga.
  • OpenBSD derived from the NetBSD project will run on all kinds of systems.

See also