Unix started it all.

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50 years of Unix

We commemorated this historic milestone with a two-day event at the Murray Hill, N.J. campus in October 2019.

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It all started in 1969 when two Bell Labs computer scientists were looking for a new research project. Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie had spent the last half of the decade working on an experimental time-sharing operating system for mainframes called Multics as part of joint research group with General Electric and MIT. The Multics project was high on ambition but fraught with problems leading AT&T to withdraw from the effort. That left Thompson, Ritchie and several other Bell Labs researchers in search of a new problem to solve. They decided to take the best ideas from Multics and implement them on a smaller scale – specifically on a little-used PDP-7 minicomputer at Bell Labs. That summer Unix was born.

Unix made large-scale networking of diverse computing systems — and the Internet — practical. The Unix team went on to develop the C language, which brought an unprecedented combination of efficiency and expressiveness to programming. Both made computing more “ portable. ” Today, Linux, the most popular descendent of Unix, powers the vast majority of servers, and elements of Unix and Linux are found in most mobile devices. Meanwhile C++ remains one of the most widely used programming languages today. Unix may be a half-century old but its influence is only growing.

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Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, inventors of Unix, at Bell Labs in 1972.

Millions of future robots will run Unix

Rodney Brooks — computer scientist, roboticist, and entrepreneur — describes the role of Unix in robotics in “The Great Robot Migration from Embedded Isles to Unix-ville.”

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#belllabs

Nokia Bell Labs looks ahead to ongoing applications of Unix across industrial platforms. Follow the trends by following us online.

Solve puzzles using Unix pipes

The Unix Game is a fun, low-barrier programming contest using UNIX text processing utilities. Rise to the challenge and compare your progress with other players.

Let’s play!
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Celebrating 50 years with pioneers of Unix

Guest blogger Peter Adams shares personal stories about the people behind the code.

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The next computing revolution is underway at Bell Labs.

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Press Release

Nokia Software is leading the telecom industry

Analysis Mason, a global research firm, has named Nokia Software (NSW) as the overall market share leader across both telecom software and services combined. NSW builds the software underlying the entire Nokia portfolio, running and operating end-to-end networks across the world.

Here’s where it all began.

Unix made large-scale networking of diverse computing systems — and the Internet — practical.

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Dennis Ritchie’s personal website

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A timeline of the Unix system’s technical and social events

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The rise of C++: Designed for the Unix system environment

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The Vintage Computer Federation, a nonprofit community resource

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