Many people have never even heard of Unix, an operating system first released in the early 1970s. But that doesn't change the fact that all of the internet, and nearly every computer or smart device you interact with is based on some variant of Unix. So, how was such an important project created, and how did it revolutionize computing?
Today we will dive into the story leading up to Unix: time-sharing computers in the 1960s. This is really just the background for part 2 where we will discuss the creation and rise of Unix itself. However, the history of early multi-user computers is itself deeply interesting and impactful on the evolution of computing.
Modern operating systems adhere to a pretty rigid formula. They all have users with password-protected accounts and secure files. They all have restrictions to keep programs from breaking stuff. That design has been common for a long time, but that doesn't make it the best solution. In the late 60s ITS, the Incompatible Timesharing System, was developed as a more exciting alternative. ITS was built for hackers to play, there were no passwords, any anyone who could find ITS was welcome to log in.
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