After three decades of use, the UNIX computer operating system from Bell Labs is still regarded as one of the most powerful, versatile, and flexible operating systems (OS) in the computer world. Its popularity is due to many factors, including its ability to run a wide variety of machines, from micros to supercomputers, and its portability — all of which led to its adoption by many manufacturers.
Like another legendary creature whose name also ends in ‘x,’ UNIX rose from the ashes of a multi-organizational effort in the early 1960s to develop a dependable timesharing operating system. The joint effort was not successful, but a few survivors from Bell Labs tried again, and what followed was a system that offers its users a work environment that has been described as “of unusual simplicity, power, and elegance….”
The system also fostered a distinctive approach to software design — solving a problem by interconnecting simpler tools, rather than creating large monolithic application programs. Its development and evolution led to a new philosophy of computing, and it has been a never-ending source of both challenges and joy to programmers around the world.