Linux: A very Brief History
The roots of Linux can be traced back to the origins of Unix TM . In 1969, Ken Thompson of the Research Group at Bell Laboratories began experimenting on a multi-user, multi-tasking operating system using an otherwise idle PDP-7. He was soon joined by Dennis Richie and the two of them, along with other members of the Research Group produced the early versions of Unix TM. Richie was strongly influenced by an earlier project, MULTICS and the name Unix TM is itself a pun on the name MULTICS.

Early versions were written in assembly code, but the third version was rewritten in a new programming language, C. C was designed and written by Richie expressly as a programming language for writing operating systems. This rewrite allowed Unix TM to move onto the more powerful PDP-11/45 and 11/70 computers then being produced by DIGITAL. The rest, as they say, is history.

Unix TM moved out of the laboratory and into mainstream computing and soon most major computer manufacturers were producing their own versions. Linux was the solution to a simple need. The only software that Linus Torvalds, Linux's author and principle maintainer was able to afford was Minix. Minix is a simple, Unix TM like, operating system widely used as a teaching aid. Linus was less than impressed with its features, his solution was to write his own software. He took Unix TM as his model as that was an operating system that he was familiar with in his day to day student life. He started with an Intel 386 based PC and started to write. Progress was rapid and, excited by this, Linus offered his efforts to other students via the emerging world wide computer networks, then mainly used by the academic community.

Others saw the software and started contributing. Much of this new software was itself the solution to a problem that one of the contributors had. Before long, Linux had become an operating system. It is important to note that Linux contains no Unix TM code, it is a rewrite based on published POSIX standards. Linux is built with and uses a lot of the GNU (GNU's Not Unix TM) software produced by the Free Software Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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