The evolution of the Operating System (OS) has persisted since the appearance of the computer and has occurred in uncoordinated manner, resulting in numerous products to cater for the same need. Several versions of a particular type of OS emerged in subsequent productions to meet the needs of a changing computing world. This article highlights seven of some of the developments in the OS evolution, singling out three of the most important in the ending conclusion. There are several other types of OS evolution innovations not mentioned in this article.
Earliest forms of are recorded in early 1950’s such as Tape Director developed by the MIT. Other operating systems emerged in 1956 such as the one developed by General Motors wing of research, referred to as GMNAA I/O. In the mainframe era, operating systems such as SCOPE were in the market as early as 1960s, as developed by Control Data Corporation. Other developments later experienced for the computer at that age include PLATO, EXEC, MCP, GECOS, Multics and TOPs among others. Later, advancements in hardware capabilities introduced higher definition operating systems (Bacon, 1989).
UNIX was designed and developed in from 1970 by Ken Thomson and Dennis Ritchie and in five years’ time, it was already in the market. A wide range of versions was designed for different computer types such as IBM PC making it a successful ground-breaking innovation for the OS market (White, 2005).
The other remarkable contribution in the evolution of the OS appeared in the computer world in the 1980’s, with the Disc Operating System (DOS) making a lion’s share of the credit. Microsoft (MS) was the company of choice for the development of this innovation, having a better competitive edge when compared with rivals such as Digital Research.MS DOS and PC DOS versions of the Operating System emerged in the 1980’s, and in a span of a decade, some of the most celebrated evolution products such as 1.0, 1.1, 1.25, 2.0, 2.01, 2.1, 2.11, 2.25, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.0, 4.01, 5.0 entered into the market.
Microsoft was at the same time designing an OS while DOS revolution was still in continuity. The introduction of Windows began in 1985 but reliance on DOS made it an incomplete version until much later in the 1990’s.
Linux was developed in 1991 by a Finnish student making foundational reliance on UNIX, making one of the most successful OS that is sometimes referred to as a UNIX clone. The incorporation of the Linux ideas into the GNU project in 1992 gave it the impetus it needed to be propelled into the market. Other successful developments in the OS include the emergence of Linux Kernel versions as a development of the initial product.
Mac OS X appeared in the market after a long spell of domination by both Linux and Windows since the 1980’s. This development was made in 2001 by Apple to increase the number of OS options that users had in the market. Mac OS 10.3 emerged in 2003 to add to the features of the older version. Virtualization age of the personal computer has equally seen important developments in the OS.
Appearance of Windows XP in the market was also a major development upon the turn of the millennium, which heralded a new age of rapid innovations at an unprecedented rate. The new millennium has perhaps witnessed momentous changes in the OS than the previous one, within a span of the shortest time in computer history.
Windows Server 2003 soon appeared to add to the fast unfolding drama, making it two OS products from Microsoft in as much time. Other developments in this OS came in 2005 and 2006 in form of Service Pack 1 and R2 respectively. Windows Vista appearance in 2006 made huge contributions to the ever improving and evolving Windows OS products. The birth of other Windows products such as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 is testament to these evolutionary contributions to the OS.
Perhaps the greatest success in innovation story that can be picked from the above evolution must be composed of Mac OS, Microsoft’s Windows, and UNIX/ LINUX innovations in the simplest estimation. Using today’s manifestation and established existence in computer systems, it is undoubtedly correct to state that UNIX and Windows have unmatchable edge (Mamcenko, n.d). Mac OS introduction into the market introduced a phase of the microcomputer, taking it to a new high level, for instance the success at Apple can be attributed to this OS. Microsoft Windows is one of the commonest and widely used families of OSes. According to Mamcenko (n.d), much of the success builds on the wide applications of the Windows products which reported a near monopoly of the desktop market as early as 2004 with a 90 per cent share. UNIX and Unix-like platforms of OS products that are similarly operated on a wide spectrum of machine architecture are testament to their status in the world of computing (Hansen, 2000). According to the author, free versions of the UNIX class of OS variants have propelled it to popularity that many other rival products cannot achieve.
Apparently, the last decade, Windows family remains one of the single most irreplaceable OS producers. Recent developments at Microsoft demonstrate that in order for any corporation to reach the market status, a decade’s long investment must be made. The other major development of the decade can certainly be the UNIX/Linux story. The fact that several software products in the market today depend on the two systems contributes to the idea that their application has midwifed the dramatic advancements in the computing age. In fact, the microprocessor success at Apple heralded by Mac OS is a build-up of the parent UNIX operating system. Windows continued success is evident in the latest development of the release of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 this year. It is can be projected that the future of OS evolution is in safe hands, having been propelled to this stage by these innovations.
Bacon, J. (1989) Evolution of operating system structures, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
Hansen, P. B. (2000) “The Evolution of Operating Systems,” In Classic operating systems: from batch processing to distributed systems, Hansen, P. B. Ed. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag Publishers
Mamcenko, J. (n.d) “Lecture Note on Operating Systems,” Retrieved from: http://gama.vtu.lt/biblioteka/Operating_systems/Operating_systems.pdf
White, S. (2005) “A Brief History of Computing- Operating Systems,” Retrieved from: http://trillian.randomstuff.org.uk/~stephen/history/timeline-OS.html
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