UNIX OS: the core of the Internet [Archives:2005/822/Education]

March 7 2005

By Waleed Al-Janadi
Cleveland State University, USA
[email protected]

UNIX was the first operating system designed to run on 'dissimilar' computers by converting most hardware specific commands in machine language into an independent programming language called 'C.' UNIX was the basis of AT&T's telephone system and the government's wide area network system.

Then it became the basis of communication between engineers and scientists, and eventually the basis of communication for everyone worldwide 'World Wide Web. It has held this remarkable spot since 1969. However, in the 1990s there are competitors in the market, namely, Microsoft Corporation with its Windows NT product. But UNIX-based software suppliers are not just turning over and letting the competitors win.

UNIX supporters are many, and UNIX remains, and will remain a major player in the marketplace.

The unique advantage of the UNIX operating system when it was introduced was that it could (and still does) run on dissimilar machines, unheard of prior to 1969. UNIX also can run more than one program at a time, store complex graphics and databases, and link to other UNIX and mainframe computer systems, including DOS and it has been doing so since the late 1980s.

UNIX-based systems control various programs written by many companies to distribute information between multiple computers within the network.

This minimizes user costs and eliminates system-wide hardware crashes.

UNIX was developed at AT&T in 1969, primarily for controlling the phone network and handling government communications. Other U.S. companies and international companies now sell versions of UNIX that work best on their computers. UNIX at first worked over ARPnet, 'named after its sponsor from the Pentagon.' The ARPA network grew throughout the 1970s when computer networks from various organizations, both national and international, began to link to ARPAnet, mostly for transferring engineering and scientific research data. 'With the advent of satellite transmissions, the first international network connection was made with the University of London (England) and the Royal Radar Establishment of Norway in 1973.'

In 1979, the National Science Foundation established the Computer

Science Research Network (CSnet), which was connected to ARPAnet through a gateway.

This system was used for e-mail and for sharing technical information. In the early 1980's, the NSF created its own network, which added educational links for schools and libraries. However, access to NSFnet was limited to these government or government research organizations.

In 1992, NSF created Advanced Network and Services, Inc. (ANS), used to manage the NSFnet, which opened up the Internet to everyone. ANS also opened up the potential for multimedia on the Internet through the World Wide Web.

Once the potential was there, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) began a project to create the international internet. The CERN project operated on TCP/IP transfer protocols which was developed inside a Berkeley UNIX system. The project was started in the mid-1980s and completed in 1990.

By 1993, the internet had become a world-wide phenomenon. The Web allows users to easily browse through hypertext and multimedia located on various computers and main frame systems around the world.

The Web can best be described as a 'global interactive, dynamic, cross-platform, distributed, graphical hypertext information system that operates over the internet. Most of the text transferred over the internet is written in hypertext markup language. Graphics are transferred via standard generalized markup language through the UNIX operating system.

No one owns the web, but a consortium of U.S. and European individuals and organizations who support its operation, called the World Wide Web. All of these are currently transferred over the UNIX operating system. 'Today, the Internet is still growing in terms of size and number of connections.

UNIX has served many different government and scientific entities in the past and continues to be enhanced by software designers in order to better serve customers by being responsive to today's marketplace. UNIX serves, and will continue to serve the world through the Web.