The Digital Research Initiative
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Part One

UNIX History

The following information is directly from UNIX: Frequently Asked Questions.

From: "Pierre (P.) Lewis" 
Date: Mon May 30 15:44:28 EDT 1994
UNIX history goes back to 1969 and the famous "little-used PDP-7 in a corner" on which Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and others started work on what was to become UNIX. The name "UNIX" was intended as a pun on Multics (and was written "Unics" at first -- UNiplexed Information and Computing System).

For the first 10 years, UNIX development was essentially confined to Bell Labs. These initial versions were labeled "Version n" or "Nth Edition" (of the manuals), and were for DEC's PDP-11 (16 bits) and later VAXen (32 bits). Some significant versions include:

These Vn versions were developed by the Computer Research Group (CRG) of Bell Labs. Another group, the UNIX System Group (USG), was responsible for support. A third group at Bell Labs was also involved in UNIX development, the Programmer's WorkBench (PWB), to which we owe, for example, sccs, named pipes and other important ideas. Both groups were merged into UNIX System Development Lab in 1983.

Another variant of UNIX was CB UNIX (Columbus UNIX) from the Columbus branch of Bell Labs, responsible of Operations Support Systems. Its main contribution was parts of SV IPC.

Work on UNIX continued at Bell Labs in the 1980s. The V series was further developed by the CRG (Stroustrup mentions V10 in the 2nd edition of his book on C++), but we don't seem to hear much about this otherwise. The company now responsible for UNIX (System V) is called UNIX System Laboratories (USL) and is majority-owned by AT&T. Novell has bought USL (early 93)! Novell has given rights to the "UNIX" trademark to X/Open (late 93).

But much happened to UNIX outside AT&T, especially at Berkeley (where the other major flavor comes from). Vendors (esp. of workstations) also contributed much (e.g. Sun's NFS).

The book "Life with UNIX" by Don Libes and Sandy Ressler is fascinating reading for anyone interested in UNIX, and covers a lot of the history, interactions, etc.. Much in the present section is summarized from this book.

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