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The Tangled Mess That Is UNIX's Family Tree

© July 2004 BigDumbDinosaur

The Tangled Search Keys: Linux, UNIX, lawsuit, Novell, Caldera, IBM, Open Source

Most who regularly poke around on this site know that UNIX's origins can be traced back to at least 1969.  It was then, so the story goes, that Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, both employees at Bell Labs in New Jersey, found themselves staring at a beat-up DEC PDP-7 minicomputer, wondering how to get the thing to play some games.  Of course, if you wish to include Multics in the picture you can go back to at least 1965.  (As an aside, Bill Gates was just nine years old at the time, and had reached the ripe old age of 13 when Thompson started playing with that old PDP-7.)

I've always known that UNIX's geneology is a complex one, but I guess I never really appreciated just how complex it was until this SCO lawsuit mess started.  So in the spirit of being well informed about who "owns" what in the world of UNIX, prepare to become cross-eyed when you get a load of this UNIX timeline.

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And this is something a judge is supposed to understand..


---July 28, 2004

It all depends on what you call "Unix". Unix as a OS, as code, is definately AT&amp;T's baby.

But saying that AT&amp;T invented "Unix" as we understand it today, is like saying that Karl Benz invented the automobile.

Sure he created the first one that had a internal combustion motor and was practical, but it would be silly to say that everything that looks like his creation and follows the same basic design criteria is infringing on his design.

SCO may own rights to distribute the code and rights to the Unix trademark, but I am sure that places like Open Group and their Unix specification would beg to differ SCO "owning" and every innovation based on Unix design in the universe...

Seems like Unix is more of a community project then the darling of any one corporation. To me it's a OS-type, like lower-case "unix". A family of operating systems based on a common anscestry.

Doubt it would stand up in court, but it can be a valid arguement in my eyes. A sort of de-facto standard.

oh and don't forget the Windows history preview.


Well, the Windows one is nowhere near as convoluted, which you'd expect, seeing as how only one vendor was involved in its development. However, in more recent years, Windows' lineage has become pretty tangled, which you wouldn't expect, seeing as how only one vendor was involved in its development.


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