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Electronic Engineering, Nov. 1989

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DIRECTIONS COMPUTERS OMPUTERS NEED OPERATING SYSTEMS, and over the years they have seen many, though few with any longevity. The Unix operating system, which is taking over the world in high-performance systems, goes back 20 years. But it took off only this decade-for several reasons. Unix was developed in the 1960s by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and their colleagues at AT&T Bell Laboratories. It was intended for internal use, but then in 1975 it was released to six universities at no cost. : Under today's licensing arrangements, it is available to universities at a fraction of the fees that businesses pay. And . : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : . ,. . . those fees have declined sharply. : It was offered commercially for the : first time in 1978, but it achieved little: success in the marketplace-thanks to : the U.S. government. Prior to the: AT&T divestiture in 1984, AT&T, as a : public utility, was not permitted to enter: the computer marketplace. It was per- : mitted to sell Unix-but not to support : it. It could sell somebody a Unix tape, : which did include some documentation. : But it couldn't help somebody who got: into trouble. The company was com-: pelled to say, in effect: "Here's the tape. : If you get into trouble, don't call us. : You're on your own." : A handful of companies took Unix any- : way because it had a number of strong: attractions. It was very portable, thanks : largely to its use of the C language, : introduced by Dennis Ritchie in 1969. : And it was easy to manage. The docu- : mentation could go in a briefcase, instead : of a bookshelf. But most companies: wouldn't accept an operating system: without support, and many didn't like the : price. . : In 1978, AT&T introduced Version 6 : of the Unix operating system. A license: cost $8,400 for any number of machines : at a company. In 1978-79, AT&T intro- : duced an enhanced Unix, Version 7, and : charged $11,700 for any number of ma- : chines at a company. : At the end of 1979, AT&T changed its: pricing schedule and began charging on a : per-user basis. The fee started at $750 : for a single user and rose in steps to a : maximum of $9,400 for 64 or more: users. : In 1981, AT&T changed its fee sched- : ule-and its terminology. It no longer: had "Versions." It had "Systems." And it : switched from Arabic to Roman numer- : also : In 1981, the company introduced Sys- : tern ill at $100 per single user. But the : fee for 64 or more users was $7,000. : The logic behind a larger per-unit fee for: heavy-use companies was that compa- : nies with more users were more likely to : use more of the material that was pro-: vided on the source tape. Smaller compa- : nies, AT&T reasoned, based on custom- : er inputs, would use less of the available: information. RONALD GRUNER, ALLIANT In 1983, though divestiture hadn't yet : taken place, the government allowed : AT&T to enter the computer market. : That's when it began supporting Unix : seriously. AT&T announced its intention : to maintain upward compatibility with fu- : ture releases. The company brought out: Unix System V with the same price : structure as System ill. In 1983, Motor- : ola, Intel, Zilog and National Semicon- : ductor agreed to port Unix System V to : their microprocessors. In that year, IBM : offered Unix in its PCIXT. : • P lET Unix started moving more briskly in : 1984, when System V, Release 2 was: offered at only $60 per single user, but: still $7,000 for 64 and more users. Then: came System V, Release 3, when the : price plummeted to $50 per single user: and $150 for an unlimited number of : users at a plant. : AT&T maintained its fondness for edu- : cation. Its charge for universities and col- : leges-for administrative use---is one- : third the commercial price. For educa- : Continued on page D52 : BEN ROSEN, SEVIN ROSEN November 20, 1989 DlRECTIONSlEE TIMES Dt7

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