Torvalds released Linux under the GNU General Public License, which meant anyone could modify Linux to fix bugs or to add new features. It was easier to type rm than a more descriptive command name like remove, or cp than copy. Even Microsoft supports Linux; it’s Azure platform runs Linux, as does the Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows desktops. Despite powering over 90% of cloud workloads today, Unix (and Linux with it) had humble beginnings. Today, “New Roff” or nroff, is a core part of Unix. The Unix team suggested the Patents department buy a new DEC PDP-11 minicomputer, and the Unix team would put Unix on it and write custom software to help the Patents department write patent applications. One of Unix’s defining features, the “pipe,” which allowed one command to send its output to another command for additional processing, was also added at the behest of another Bell Labs researcher, Douglas McIlroy. Until then, commands acted on single files at a time. If you’re looking for Unix on the desktop, however, consider Apple’s macOS. The ls, rm, mv, and other standard Unix commands were so short because the early Model 33 Teletype terminals used at Bell Labs required significant effort to type each letter. History of Unix. By submitting your email, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. It’s no longer about “Unix as a platform” but “Linux as a platform.” And just as Unix grew beyond its original design, adding new features where needed, Linux continues to evolve to meet new needs. This “global regular expression print” command was named simply grep, now a standard Unix command. NeXT brought several innovations to Unix, including a microkernel based on Mach. The Unix operating system found its beginnings in MULTICS, which stands for Multiplexed Operating and Computing System. If you connect the two commands together as ls|wc , you get the number of files in a directory. A new implementation of the Roff document formatting system, itself a derivation of an earlier CTSS program called RUNOFF. Thompson reused code from the Unix ed editor to create a utility to perform a “global regular expression print” of any text that matched the user’s regular expression. Around that time, a bunch of different vendors started selling their own versions of Unix, including Hewlett Packard’s HP-UX, IBM’s AIX, Microsoft’s Xenix, Sun’s SunOS (later rebranded Solaris), among others. NeXT’s graphical desktop, NeXTSTEP, added other new ideas, such as Display PostScript to create on-screen graphics, a “dock” of available and running applications, and an object-oriented application layer with toolkits. This “open source” or “Free Software” model quickly drove new Linux development. The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support CloudSavvy IT. But through its development, MULTICS also became increasingly complex. In 1983, Richard Stallman started a new project to create a Free Software version of Unix, called GNU (a recursive acronym, meaning “GNU’s Not Unix”). In the early days of computing, users interacted with the computer through a variety of byzantine means. One of my favorite stories of early Unix is how the Unix researchers managed to purchase a new computer system to continue their work, and created a new standard Unix command at the same time. Every distribution of Unix was slightly different and incompatible with each other. Instead, Unix grew organically as different users required new features. That new software to write patents? I’m not sure if “Unix” is the right label anymore. A running gag in the Linux community is “Next year will be the Year of the Linux Desktop.” But Windows reigns supreme on the desktop. Red Hat Linux 9.0, the last version of Red Hat Linux (commercial), reached end-of-life on April 30, 2004. On the desktop, Linux never gained a significant foothold. Caldera ships OpenLinux Standard 1.1 May 5, 1997, the second offering in Caldera's OpenLinux product line. While proprietary Unix systems still exist, most Unix systems are Linux. Communities popped up around Linux, porting GNU tools and other Unix commands to run on Linux. Thompson wrote the grep command based on a suggestion from McIlroy that Unix should have a utility to find text in files. In 1991, a Finnish student named Linus Torvalds started work on a project that later became the Linux kernel. At least on web servers, Linux dominates. Steve Jobs, after being ousted as Apple’s CEO in 1985, founded NeXT, which produced its own variant of Unix, derived from BSD. Other versions of Unix were derived from a popular university variant from the University of California at Berkeley, called BSD for “Berkeley Software Distribution.” Many of the commands were the same or similar between the different Unix versions, but the details in how you managed the system usually differed greatly. In 1992, developers ported the X Window System, giving Linux its first graphical user interface. Jim Hall @jimfhall September 2, 2020, 8:00am EDT September 1, 2020, 12:11pm EDT . Bell Labs found they needed an operating system for their computer center that at the time was running various batch jobs. A free subscription option for Red Hat Enterprise Linux is announced for developers and is intended for non-production use only. In fact, macOS is an official Unix, recognized by the Open Group. Operators typically interacted with the system using typewriter-like paper terminal devices.