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In Pictures: Celebrating Unix heroes

This presentation features the early Unix pioneers and their contributions to the computer industry.

  • Unix, the multitasking, multi-user operating system was developed in 1969 at Bell Labs by AT&T employees and associates. Unix descendants and clones include Berkeley Unix, Minix, Linux, AIX, A/UX, HP-UX and Solaris. Apple's Mac OS X is based on Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) UNIX.

  • Ken Thompson Ken Thompson was the co-developer of Unix. He worked at Bell Labs from 1966 until he retired in December 2000. Thompson wrote the B programming language, which was the precursor to the C language; then he rewrote Unix in C, and later rewrote parts of it again to include Doug McIlroy's pipes. He is currently a Distinguished Engineer at Google.

  • Dennis Ritchie (Sept 9, 1941 to Oct 12, 2011) Dennis Ritchie was the co-developer of the Unix operating system and creator of the C programming language. He worked at Bell Labs, which divested to AT&T, which branched off to Lucent Technologies, from 1967 until he retired in 2007. His books include the UNIX Programmer's Manual (1971) and The C Programming Language (1978) with Brian Kernighan.

  • Joe Ossanna (Dec 10, 1928 to Nov 28, 1977) Joe Ossanna worked at Bell Labs from the mid 50s until he died in 1977. He was part of the team that designed Multics, the first timesharing operating system at Bell Labs and MIT, then worked with Thompson, Ritchie, and Rudd Canaday programming Unics, which later became Unix. He was noted for writing a version of nroff (called troff) that managed the team’s new Graphic Systems CAT phototypesetter. In 1973, he wrote the first Unix troff in PDP-11 assembly language, then two years later, he rewrote the code in C.

  • Douglas McIlroy Douglas McIlroy worked at Bell Labs from 1958 until he retired in 1997. He is renowned for developing Unix pipes/pipelines, in addition to a number of Unix tools, plus he was the driving force behind both component-based and product-line software engineering. He has written and edited many books and journals and received numerous awards for his work in the computer industry. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

  • Peter Neumann Peter Neumann worked at Bell Labs from 1960 to 1970. Between 1965 and 1969, he worked on the Multics team. He is responsible for the file system design and participated in the Multics input-output design along with Thompson, Ossanna, and Stan Dunten. He’s published numerous articles and papers, including his book Computer-Related Risks. In addition, he is the moderator of RISKS Digest and founding editor of ACM Software Engineering Notes. Neumann has been Principal Scientist at SRI since 1971. He is considered an expert in computer security and authored the report/paper titled A Provably Secure Operating System (PSOS).

  • Rudd Canaday Rudd Canaday worked at Bell Labs from 1964 to 1989 and is credited as the third co-developer of Unix. His accomplishments including many firsts such as the first database server; the first company-wide application of Unix; the first internal Unix application (at AT&T); the first automated testing system; the first automated white pages/directory assistance program; and the first (or one of the first) three-dimensional file systems. Canaday is currently co-founder and Director of Engineering at RHC Software.

  • Brian Kernighan Brian Kernighan worked at Bell Labs on the team that developed Unix alongside Thompson, Ritchie, and the others mentioned. He has written half a dozen books including co-authorship of the first book on the C programming language with Dennis Ritchie, and he’s credited with coining the term WYSIWYG. Kernighan is a professor in the Computer Science Department at Princeton University.

  • Michael Lesk Michael Lesk worked at Bell Labs from 1970 to 1984 on the Unix development team. His contributions included the tools for word processing, plus tools for compiling and networking. In addition, he wrote the Portable I/O Library and he was part of the team that developed the C language preprocessor. He left Bell Labs to manage the computer science research group at Bellcore. From 1998 to 2002, he was head of the Information and Intelligent Systems division at the National Science Foundation. Today, Lesk is a professor of Library & Information Science at Rutgers University.

  • Bill Joy In 1986, Bill Joy received the Grace Murray Hopper Award by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for his co-design of the Berkeley Unix operating system (known as BSD or Berkeley Software Distribution Unix), an open-source operating system with built-in TCP/IP networking. Joy’s BSD Unix also included the C shell, the vi editor, and virtual memory support, which allowed programs to function beyond the hardware’s actual physical memory. Joy became co-founder of Sun in 1982 and is currently a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, & Byers.

  • David Korn David Korn began working at Bell Labs in 1976. He developed the Korn shell (a liaison program between users and the operating system), which was more accommodating for him and his colleagues than the C and Bourne shells; and UWIN, an X/Open library for Win32 systems, among many other achievements. He’s written two books, dozens of papers, and volumes of documentation about Unix and its progression. Korn still works at AT&T Labs.

  • Rob Pike Rob Pike worked at Bell Labs from 1980 to 2002 as a member of the Unix team. In addition to his contributions to Plan 9, the Inferno operating systems, and the Limbo programming language, Pike wrote the first bitmap window system for Unix in 1981 and later co-developed the Blit graphical terminal for Unix. Also, he has written many text editors such as sam and acme, and co-authored the book titled The Practice of Programming and The UNIX Programming Environment with Brian Kernighan. Pike is currently a Distinguished Engineer at Google.

  • Andrew Tanenbaum Andrew Tanenbaum worked summers at Bell Labs from 1979 to 1982. He wrote a Unix clone called Minix in 1987 to use as a practice operating system on the IBM PC. Minix (or Mini-Unix) became a worldwide phenomena. Tanenbaum has earned over two dozen awards, fellows, and honorary doctorates and authored half a dozen or so published textbooks. Tanenbaum is currently a professor of Computer Science at Vrije Universiteit at Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

  • Rick Rashid In 1979, Rick Rashid was hired as a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. His contribution to the Unix environment was the first version of the Mach kernel, a replacement “micro kernel” for BSD Unix. Mach was the first 64-bit version of Unix and, together with BSD, became the foundation for the Open Software Foundation’s OS called OSF/1, which later became the OS roots for DEC/Compaq/HP, NeXTstep, and Apple Mac OS X. Today, Rashid is the Chief Research Officer at Microsoft Corp.

  • Gordon Bell Gordon Bell was not employed at Bell Labs, but he did work with Thompson and Ritchie. He worked in R&D at Digital Equipment Corp for 23 years. One of his greatest successes was his development of the VAX minicomputer, considered the champion of its class. He was the driving force behind the adoption and acceptance of Unix in the scientific community, for supercomputers, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He created the National Science Foundation's computer science and engineering division, which he also directed. Currently, Bell works for Microsoft.

  • Linus Torvalds In August 1991, Linus Torvalds announced his Linux operating system, which was based on Unix, in a Usenet posting. He originally created the Linux kernel to work on an 80386 processor PC, which was running the Minix operating system and a GNU, C compiler. However, a kernel does not make an OS, so the other necessary pieces; that is, the shell, compilers, library, tools, etc. were developed by the GNU project and released under its General Public License in 1992. Once all the components were integrated, Linux was officially born. The penguin mascot was added in 1996 and the rest is history.

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