History of operating systems

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History of operating systems

  1. 1. History of Operating SystemsAn operating system (OS) is a software program that manages the hardware and softwareresources of a computer. The OS performs basic tasks, such as controlling and allocatingmemory,prioritizing the processing of instructions, controlling input and output devices, facilitatingnetworking, and managing files.The first computers did not have operating systems. However, software tools for managingthe system and simplifying the use of hardware appeared very quickly afterwards, andgraduallyexpanded in scope. By the early 1960s, commercial computer vendors were supplying quiteextensive tools for streamlining the development, scheduling, and execution of jobs on batchprocessing systems. Examples were produced by UNIVAC and Control Data Corporation,amongstothers.Through the 1960s, several major concepts were developed, driving the development ofoperating systems. The development of the IBM System/360 produced a family of mainframecomputers available in widely differing capacities and price points, for which a singleoperatingsystem OS/360 was planned (rather than developing ad-hoc programs for every individualmodel).This concept of a single OS spanning an entire product line was crucial for the success ofSystem/360 and, in fact, IBMs current mainframe operating systems are distant descendantsof this original system; applications written for the OS/360 can still be run on modernmachines. OS/360 also contained another important advance: the development of the harddisk permanent storage device (which IBM called DASD). Another key development was theconcept of time-sharing: the idea of sharing the resources of expensive computers amongstmultiple computer users interacting in real time with the system.Time sharing allowed all of the users to have the illusion of having exclusive access to themachine; the Multics time sharing system was the most famous of a number of new operatingsystems developed to take advantage of the concept. Multics, particularly, was an inspiration toa number of operating systems developed in the 1970s, notably Unix. Another commercially-popular minicomputer operating system was VMS.The first microcomputers did not have the capacity or need for the elaborate operating systemsthathad been developed for mainframes and minis; minimalistic operating systems weredeveloped.One notable early operating system was CP/M, which was supported on many earlymicrocomputers and was largely cloned in creating MS-DOS, which became wildly popular astheoperating system chosen for the IBM PC (IBMs version of it was called IBM-DOS or PC-DOS), itssuccessors making Microsoft one of the worlds most profitable companies. The majoralternativethroughout the 1980s in the microcomputer market was Mac OS, tied intimately to the AppleMacintosh computer.
  2. 2. By the 1990s, the microcomputer had evolved to the point where, as well as extensive GUIfacilities, the robustness and flexibility of operating systems of larger computers becameincreasingly desirable. Microsofts response to this change was the development of WindowsNT,which served as the basis for Microsofts entire operating system line starting in 1999. Applerebuilttheir operating system on top of a Unix core as Mac OS X, released in 2001. Hobbyist-developedreimplementations of Unix, assembled with the tools from the GNU project, also becamepopular;versions based on the Linux kernel are by far the most popular, with the BSD derived UNIXesholding a small portion of the server market. The growing complexity of embedded devices hasa growing trend to use embedded operating systems on them.

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