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computer_basics:a_short_history_of_operating_systems

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A Short History of Operating Systems

Mithat Konar
Dec 4, 2019

The major eras

  • The no-OS era
  • Mainframe/midrange-server era
  • The personal computing era
  • GUI desktop era
  • Open source “era”
  • Mobile era

The no-OS era

  • until ~1960
  • Earliest computers did not have operating systems.
  • Expectations and capabilities were simple enough that OSes weren't needed.
  • Many limited-capability modern computers still don't have OSes.
    • Simple remote controls
    • Microwave oven panels

Mainframe/midrange-server era

  • ~1960-1975
  • multiuser (with authentication), multitasking
  • UNIX (late 1960's)
    • many versions
    • commercial but given away to academic institutions
    • still widely used in research and academia

The personal computing era

  • ~1975-1985
  • a.k.a. microcomputer era
  • single user (no authentication), single tasking
  • CLI and menu UI
  • CP/M (1974)
  • Apple II (1977)
  • DOS (1981)
  • Commodore 64 (1982), Amiga (1985) …

GUI desktop era

  • ~1985-2010
  • Apple Macintosh (1984)

GUI desktop era

  • Microsoft Windows
    • 1.0 (1985), 3.1 (1992): DOS-based
    • Windows NT (1993): UNIX competitor
    • Windows 95 (1995): preemptive multitasking
    • Windows 98 (1998): networking support
    • Windows 2000 (2000): NT evolved
    • Windows XP (2001): true multiuser; Pro, Home versions
    • Windows Vista (2006): gazillions of versions
    • Windows 7 (2009): many versions
    • Windows 8 (2012): one-OS-for-all-platforms, touch-centric
    • Windows 10 (2015)

GUI desktop era

  • Apple's Mac OS X / OS X / macOS (2001)
    • Unix-based (Darwin BSD)
  • Google's Chrome OS (2011)
    • Linux core hosting Google Chrome and Chrome-based apps.

Open-source alternatives

  • ~1991-present
  • Linux (1991)
  • BSD UNIX (open versions since ~1991)
  • Great for desktop/laptop use.
  • Great for servers.
    • Linux powers most Web servers

Mobile era

  • ~2010 - present
  • Embedded Linux (1991)
  • Windows CE/Embedded (1996)
  • Palm (1996)
  • Symbian (1997)
  • BlackBerry OS (1999)
  • Windows Mobile (2000)
  • iOS (2007)
  • Android (2008)

Mobile era

  • webOS (2010)
  • bada (2010)
  • Aliyun (2011)
  • Tizen (2012)
  • Sailfish OS (2012)
  • Firefox OS (c. 2013)
  • Ubuntu Touch (2013)

Mobile era

  • Android Wear / Wear OS (2014)
  • watchOS (2015)
  • iPadOS (2019)
  • Many small Linux projects

Not covered

  • Custom OS for supercomputers, etc.
computer_basics/a_short_history_of_operating_systems.txt · Last modified: 2019/12/05 04:50 by mithat