Timeline: 40 Years Of Unix

Some milestones of the Unix operating system's four-decades-long history

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1985

AT&T publishes the System V Interface Definition, an attempt to set a standard for how Unix works.

1986

Rick Rashid and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University create the first version of Mach, a replacement kernel for BSD Unix.

1987

AT&T Bell Labs and Sun Microsystems announce plans to co-develop a system to unify the two major Unix branches.

Andrew Tanenbaum writes Minix, an open-source Unix clone for use in computer science classrooms.

1988

The "Unix Wars" are under way. In response to the AT&T/Sun partnership, rival Unix vendors including DEC, HP and IBM form the Open Software Foundation (OSF) to develop open Unix standards. AT&T and its partners then form their own standards group, Unix International.

The IEEE publishes Posix (Portable Operating System Interface for Unix), a set of standards for Unix interfaces.

1989

Unix System Labs, an AT&T Bell Labs subsidiary, releases System V Release 4 (SVR4), its collaboration with Sun that unifies System V, BSD, SunOS and Xenix.

1990

The OSF releases its SVR4 competitor, OSF/1, which is based on Mach and BSD.

1991

Sun announces Solaris, an operating system based on SVR4.

Linus Torvalds writes Linux, an open-source OS kernel inspired by Minix.

1992

The Linux kernel is combined with GNU to create the free GNU/Linux operating system, which many refer to as simply "Linux."

1993

AT&T sells its subsidiary Unix System Laboratories and all Unix rights to Novell. Later that year, Novell transfers the Unix trademark to the X/Open group.

Microsoft introduces Windows NT, a powerful, 32-bit multiprocessor operating system. Fear of NT spurs true Unix-standardization efforts.

1996

X/Open merges with the OSF to form The Open Group.

1999

Thompson and Ritchie receive the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton.

2002

The Open Group announces Version 3 of the Single Unix Specification.

Sources: A Quarter Century of UNIX, by Peter H. Salus; Microsoft; AT&T; The Open Group; Wikipedia and other sources

Main story: Unix turns 40: The past, present and future of a revolutionary OS

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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