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The Open Channel: Unix -- a software marketing phenomenon

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131408D
Original Publication Date: 1979-Jun-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 4 page(s) / 21K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

True Seaborn: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

The Open Channel is exactly what the name implies: a forum for the free exchange of technical ideas. Try to hold your contributions to one page maximum in the float format (about I 000 words). We'll accept anything (short of libel or obscenity) so long as it's submitted by a member of the Computer Society. If ids really bizarre we may require you to get another member to cosponsor your item. Send everything to Jim Haynes, Applied Sciences, UC Santa Cruz, CA 95064.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1979 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society http://www.computer.org/ (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

The Open Channel: Unix -- a software marketing phenomenon

The Open Channel is exactly what the name implies: a forum for the free exchange of technical ideas. Try to hold your contributions to one page maximum in the float format (about I 000 words).

We'll accept anything (short of libel or obscenity) so long as it's submitted by a member of the Computer Society. If ids really bizarre we may require you to get another member to cosponsor your item.

Send everything to Jim Haynes, Applied Sciences, UC Santa Cruz, CA 95064.

Many readers will be familiar with Unix or will at least have heard the name. Unix is a time- sharing operating system written at Bell Laboratories. The most well-known version runs on the larger PDP-11 computers, but there are also versions for other machines, either in existence (Interdata 8/32) or rumored (System/370). The reader who would like to know more about it should get the July-August 1978 issue of Bell System Technical Journal or an earlier paper in the July 1974 CACM. Without going into technical details here, let me just say that it is a very well-done, compact, and powerful system.

Although it was developed originally in a research environment, Unix has become a production system on hundreds of computers within the Bell System. It is also widely used outside Bell, both in universities and commercially. It has been available free of charge for educational use and at a stiff license fee for commercial use. Whether or not you have to pay for it, there is no vendor support; you get a tape and some manuals, and that is the last you hear from the vendor. What is worthy of special note, in my opinion, is the remarkable position of this product in the software marketplace.

First, there is the phenomenon of an operating system furnished by other than the hardware manufacturer. True, there have been lots of operating systems written by various groups for various machines; but I can't think of that many that have found really wide appeal and success in the marketplace. Equally phenomenal is the fact that the developers of Unix did not plan to develop a commercial product. In fact, they weren't even trying to produce a product for widespread use within Bell; they were just trying to make a nice system for research programmers to use.

Perhaps one reason for the success of Unix in the educational market is that it i! free, in contrast to the vendor-supplied systems for PDP-lls. Of course the cost to the user of having no support for Unit must be weighed against the saving in ! initial cost. For...