Unix: Discussion Questions

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POS420: DQ’s for Week 1

Discussion Question 1 - Week 1 (Saturday):

How old of an operating system is Unix?

The story of how UNIX came to be is a long, but interesting tale. During the mid-1960’s, the first multi-user operating system called Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) was created by Fernando Corbato at the MIT Computation Center. Although CTSS was highly influential for its time, it eventually failed, but not before a second generation operating system called Multiplexed Information and Computing System (MULTICS) was developed. MULTICS was started as a joint research project with AT&T Bell Laboratories, General Electric, and MIT, but due to the high maintenance costs associated with it, AT&T Bell Laboratories pulled out. Two of the individuals working on the MULTICS project, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, had written a computer game (Space Travel) on the MULTICS system and were able to transfer it to a PDP-7 computer. By 1969, the file system and a set of basic utilities was created and because the operating system could only support one user, the name Uniplexed Information and computing System (UNICS) was given to it as a joke for the MULTICS system. When multiprocessing functionality was added a short time later in 1970, the UNICS name was changed to UNIX. So, to answer the question, UNIX is over 40 years old.

Discussion Question 2 - Week 1 (Saturday):

Who owns UNIX?

As mentioned in my first Discussion Question, UNIX was originally created by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie at AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1969. Today, the actual determination of who owns UNIX is unknown due to legal issues. Novell holds the patent rights, which they acquired from AT&T in 1993; the Open Group holds the trademark and the Single UNIX Specification, and the copyrights are owned by the SCO Group (formally known as Caldera Systems and Caldera International; now the Santa Cruz Operation) , even though nothing has been recorded with...
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