Ever wonder about how Unix got started, not to mention all the twists and turns it took along the way? Here are some milestones of the operating system's four-decade-long history.
A U.S. Department of Justice consent decree enjoins AT&T from "engaging ... in any business other than the furnishing of common carrier communication services."
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Mar. -- AT&T-owned Bell Laboratories withdraws from development of Multics (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service), a pioneering but overly complicated time-sharing system. Some important principles in Multics will be carried over into Unix.
Aug. -- Ken Thompson at Bell Labs writes the first version of an as-yet-unnamed operating system, in assembly language for a DEC PDP-7 minicomputer.
Thompson's operating system is named Unics, for Uniplexed Information and Computing Service and a pun on "emasculated Multics." (The name is later mysteriously changed to Unix.)
Feb. -- Unix moves to the new Digital Equipment Corp. PDP-11 minicomputer.
Nov. -- The first edition of the "Unix Programmer's Manual," written by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, is published.
Dennis Ritchie develops the C programming language.
Unix matures. The "pipe," a mechanism for sharing information between two programs, which will influence operating systems for decades, is added to Unix. Unix is rewritten from assembler into C.
Jan. -- The University of California at Berkeley receives a copy of Unix.
July -- "The Unix Timesharing System," by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, appears in the monthly journal of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). The authors call it "a general-purpose, multi-user, interactive operating system." The article produces the first big demand for Unix.
Bell Labs programmer Mike Lesk develops UUCP (Unix-to-Unix Copy Program) for network transfer of files, e-mail and Usenet content.
Unix is ported to non-DEC hardware: Interdata 8/32 and IBM 360.
Bill Joy, a graduate student at Berkeley, sends out copies of the first Berkeley Software Distribution (1BSD), essentially Bell Labs' Unix V6 with some add-ons. BSD becomes a rival Unix branch to AT&T's Unix; its variants and eventual descendents include FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, DEC Ultrix, SunOS, NeXTstep/OpenStep and Mac OS X.
4BSD, with DARPA sponsorship, becomes the first version of Unix to incorporate TCP/IP.
Bill Joy co-founds Sun Microsystems to produce the Unix-based Sun workstation.
AT&T releases the first version of the influential Unix System V, which will become the basis for IBM's AIX and Hewlett Packard's HP-UX.