The operating system that once powered nearly every server in the world and is still a household name in IT, turned 40, according to a ComputerWorld feature. Just as people often ask for Kleenex when they will actually accept any tissue or Coke when they will settle for Pepsi or Dr. Pepper, Unix has become a generic name for any Unix-like operating system. But the original Unix, the core OS that made all the copycats possible, was coded in a month’s time by an AT&T hacker, enjoying some private time at home.
The year was 1969, and Ken Thompson was enjoying some time at home, while his wife and son were away for a month. The operating system exploded in the 70s with universities all over the world relying on it to power servers and teach students the power of computing. By 1979, however, AT&T tightened the reigns and restricted its use, protecting it as a “trade secret.” This spurred the Minix operating system, a Unix look-alike.
Many others followed, including the now famous Linux, BSD, Solaris, and others which now power millions of web servers all over the world. Nevertheless, Unix still persists as a dominant force on large scale servers, and its proponents believe it will continue to do so for years to come.