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Unix Fundamentals

The Unix operating system was created more than 30 years ago by a group of researchers at AT&T's Bell Laboratories. During the three decades of constant development that have followed, Unix has found a home in many places, from the ubiquitous mainframe to home computers to the smallest of embedded devices. This chapter provides a brief overview of the history of Unix, discusses some of the differences among the many Unix systems in use today, and covers the fundamental concepts of the basic Unix operating system.

Brief History

In terms of computers, Unix has a long history. Unix was developed at AT&T's Bell Laboratories after Bell Labs withdrew from a long-term collaboration with General Electric (G.E.) and MIT to create an operating system called MULTICS (Multiplexed Operating and Computing System) for G.E.'s mainframe. In 1969, Bell Labs researchers created the first version of Unix (then called UNICS, or Uniplexed Operating and Computing System), which has evolved into the common Unix systems of today.

Unix was gradually ported to different machine architectures from the original PDP-7 minicomputer and was used by universities. The source code was made available at a small fee to encourage its further adoption. As Unix gained acceptance by universities, students who used it began graduating and moving into positions where they were responsible for purchasing systems and software. When those people began purchasing systems for their companies, they considered ...

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