History of operating system
Table of Contents
The Personal Computers Generation (1980–Present)
In history of operation system, with the development of LSI (Large Scale Integration) circuits, chips containing thousands of transistors on a square centimeter of silicon, the age of the personal computer dawned. In terms of architecture, personal computers (initially called microcomputers) were not all that different from minicomputers of the PDP-11 class, but in terms of price they certainly were different. Where the minicomputer made it possible for a department in a company or university to have its own computer, the microprocessor chip made it possible for a single individual to have his or her own personal computer.
In 1974, when Intel came out with the 8080, the first general-purpose 8-bit CPU, it wanted an operating system for the 8080, in part to be able to test it. Intel asked one of its consultants, Gary Kildall, to write one. Kildall and a friend first built a controller for the newly-released Shugart Associates 8-inch floppy disk and hooked the floppy disk up to the 8080, thus producing the first microcomputer with a disk. Kildall then wrote a disk-based operating system called CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers) for it. Since Intel did not think that disk-based microcomputers had much of a future, when Kildall asked for the rights to CP/M, Intel granted his request. Kildall then formed a company, Digital Research, to further develop and sell CP/M.
In 1977, Digital Research rewrote CP/M to make it suitable for running on the many microcomputers using the 8080, Zilog Z80, and other CPU chips. Many application programs were written to run on CP/M, allowing it to completely dominate the world of microcomputing for about 5 years.
In the early 1980s, IBM designed the IBM PC and looked around for software to run on it. People from IBM contacted Bill Gates to license his BASIC interpreter. They also asked him if he knew of an operating system to run on the PC. Gates suggested that IBM contact Digital Research, then the world’s dominant operating systems company. Making what was surely the worst business decision in recorded history, Kildall refused to meet with IBM, sending a subordinate instead. To make matters worse, his lawyer even refused to sign IBM’s nondisclosure agreement covering the not-yet-announced PC. Consequently, IBM went back to Gates asking if he could provide them with an operating system.
When IBM came back, Gates realized that a local computer manufacturer, Seattle Computer Products, had a suitable operating system, DOS (Disk Operating System). He approached them and asked to buy it (allegedly for $50,000), which they readily accepted. Gates then offered IBM a DOS/BASIC package, which IBM accepted. IBM wanted certain modifications, so Gates hired the person who wrote DOS, Tim Paterson, as an employee of Gates’ fledgling company, Microsoft, to make them. The revised system was renamed MS-DOS (MicroSoft Disk Operating System) and quickly came to dominate the IBM PC market. A key factor here was Gates’ (in retrospect, extremely wise) decision to sell MS-DOS to computer companies for bundling with their hardware, compared to Kildall’s attempt to sell CP/M to end users one at a time (at least initially).
By the time the IBM PC/AT came out in 1983 with the Intel 80286 CPU, MS-DOS was firmly entrenched and CP/M was on its last legs. MS-DOS was later widely used on the 80386 and 80486. Although the initial version of MS-DOS was fairly primitive, subsequent versions included more advanced features, including many taken from UNIX. (Microsoft was well aware of UNIX, even selling a microcomputer version of it called XENIX during the company’s early years.) CP/M, MS-DOS, and other operating systems for early microcomputers were all based on users typing in commands from the keyboard. That eventually changed due to research done by Doug Engelbart at Stanford Research Institute in the 1960s. Engelbart invented the GUI (Graphical User Interface), pronounced ”gooey,” complete with windows, icons, menus, and mouse. These ideas were adopted by researchers at Xerox PARC and incorporated into machines they built.
One day, Steve Jobs, who co-invented the Apple computer in his garage, visited PARC, saw a GUI, and instantly realized its potential value, something Xerox management famously did not (Smith and Alexander, 1988). Jobs then embarked on building an Apple with a GUI. This project led to the Lisa, which was too expensive and failed commercially. Jobs’ second attempt, the Apple Macintosh, was a huge success, not only because it was much cheaper than the Lisa, but also because it was user friendly, meaning that it was intended for users who not only knew nothing about computers but furthermore had absolutely no intention whatsoever of learning.
When Microsoft decided to build a successor to MS-DOS, it was strongly influenced by the success of the Macintosh. It produced a GUI-based system called Windows, which originally ran on top of MS-DOS (i.e., it was more like a shell than a true operating system). For about 10 years, from 1985 to 1995, Windows was just a graphical environment on top of MS-DOS. However, starting in 1995 a freestanding version of Windows, Windows 95, was released that incorporated many operating system features into it, using the underlying MS-DOS system only for booting and running old MS-DOS programs. In 1998, a slightly modified version of this system, called Windows 98 was released. Nevertheless, both Windows 95 and Windows 98 still contain a large amount of 16-bit Intel assembly language.
Another Microsoft operating system is Windows NT (NT stands for New Technology), which is compatible with Windows 95 at a certain level, but a complete rewrite from scratch internally. It is a full 32-bit system. The lead designer for Windows NT was David Cutler, who was also one of the designers of the VAX VMS operating system, so some ideas from VMS are present in NT. Microsoft expected that the first version of NT would kill off MS-DOS and all other versions of Windows since it was a vastly superior system, but it fizzled. Only with Windows NT 4.0 did it finally catch on in a big way, especially on corporate networks. Version 5 of Windows NT was renamed Windows 2000 in early 1999. It was intended to be the successor to both Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0. That did not quite work out either, so Microsoft came out with yet another version of Windows 98 called Windows Me (Millennium edition).
The other major contender in the personal computer world is UNIX (and its various derivatives). UNIX is strongest on workstations and other high-end computers, such as network servers. It is especially popular on machines powered by high-performance RISC chips. On Pentium-based computers, Linux is becoming a popular alternative to Windows for students and increasingly many corporate users. (As an aside, throughout this book we will use the term ”Pentium” to mean the Pentium I, II, III, and 4.) Although many UNIX users, especially experienced programmers, prefer a command-based interface to a GUI, nearly all UNIX systems support a windowing system called the X Windows system produced at M.I.T. This system handles the basic window management, allowing users to create, delete, move, and resize windows using a mouse. Often a complete GUI, such as Motif, is available to run on top of the X Windows system giving UNIX a look and feel something like the Macintosh or Microsoft Windows, for those UNIX users who want such a thing.
An interesting development that began taking place during the mid-1980s is the growth of networks of personal computers running network operating systems and distributed operating systems (Tanenbaum and Van Steen, 2002). In a network operating system, the users are aware of the existence of multiple computers and can log in to remote machines and copy files from one machine to another. Each machine runs its own local operating system and has its own local user (or users).
Network operating systems are not fundamentally different from single-processor operating systems. They obviously need a network interface controller and some low-level software to drive it, as well as programs to achieve remote login and remote file access, but these additions do not change the essential structure of the operating system.
A distributed operating system, in contrast, is one that appears to its users as a traditional uniprocessor system, even though it is actually composed of multiple processors. The users should not be aware of where their programs are being run or where their files are located; that should all be handled automatically and efficiently by the operating system.
True distributed operating systems require more than just adding a little code to a uniprocessor operating system, because distributed and centralized systems differ in critical ways. Distributed systems, for example, often allow applications to run on several processors at the same time, thus requiring more complex processor scheduling algorithms in order to optimize the amount of parallelism.
Communication delays within the network often mean that these (and other) algorithms must run with incomplete, outdated, or even incorrect information. This situation is radically different from a single-processor system in which the operating system has complete information about the system state.
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