The UNIX operating system had its beginning at Bell laboratories in the early 1970s and has been a key player in the development of the internet, telephone calls, and even graphic design programs.
As more and more companies implemented the UNIX systems, they added their own touches and specific functions. Companies could keep their versions under wraps.
Originally, UNIX was called UNICS, and it was developed to implement user programs on a small computer. The basic idea behind UNIX was to have an operating system that was simple, where code could be reused, and that used more advanced coding languages.
The C language was used for higher-level programming. Only small segments of the UNIX system were written in assembly language, and these parts are called the kernels. (Assembly language is the most basic programming, telling pieces of equipment what to do and how to start up. “High-level” languages are how user software is written.)
As more and more companies implemented the UNIX systems, they added their own touches and specific functions to it. This created multiple versions of the UNIX system. Companies with proprietary interests could keep their versions under wraps. These varying versions were referred to as flavors. The originalBSD platform gave rise to the four current BSD versions, one of which is Apple’s blended operating system, OSX.
Another operating system born out of UNIX is the Linux operating system, which is referred to as a relative of UNIX, not a derivative. Linux has as many versions (called distros or distributions) as UNIX does, but is more graphic in its interface. The main draw to Linux systems is that they are free, although some are sold by companies such as Sun. UNIX can run on multiple platforms, allowing for use by those with no programming experience. This is a recent development in UNIX as the traditional UNIX interface was designed by programmers for programmers. Graphic user interfaces (GUIs) can be used on top of the UNIX system through X-Windows, Suntools, Motif, and others.
While businesses adopted UNIX early in its inception and implementation, the home user now takes advantage of its simpler interface and open source specifications. The graphic user interface enables the home user to have a more secure system. UNIX is far more secure than other operating systems in existence, and the open source aspect enables the end user to experiment and learn in a far more stable environment. Linux and the GNU systems are the most common among home users. The GNU system does not contain or have its own kernel, but uses the Linux kernel instead, which allows for distribution of user applications to any system running the Linux or UNIX kernels.