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It was August 1969 that the work that would lead to UNIX began. That was the month that Woodstock took place, Mariner 7 flew by Mars, President Nixon visited Romania, Charles Manson and his followers committed numerous heinous murders, and Hurricane Camille struck the U.S.

There have been some nice articles on the history of UNIX; the folks at what was Bell Labs have a nice article, as well as an article by Dennis Ritchie, one of the originators of UNIX with Ken Thompson. The UNIX Heritage Society has a nice bunch of pages, though not very many. The Wikipedia article on UNIX is nice, too.

Perhaps the definitive history can be found in Peter Salus‘s book A Quarter Century of UNIX. The BBC news article on 40 Years of UNIX talked to Dr. Salus extensively. ComputerWorld also has a nice article on the past 40 years of UNIX and in addition a nice timeline.

One of things that always struck me is how many things have their roots in UNIX and Bell Labs:

  • UNIX (of course)
  • C
  • RATFOR (who knew?)
  • Bourne Shell (and the concept that a shell could run as a user program)
  • awk
  • Pipes
  • Text-based configuration
  • Regular Expressions
  • The concept that “everything is a file”
  • One single hierarchical file system (instead of multiple “drives” as in OpenVMS and CP/M and Windows)

And this doesn’t cover all of the things that descended from UNIX or were designed with UNIX such as Perl,

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