History of Operating Systems

operating system history

The continued advancement and development of the operating systems that has been experienced over the past few decades are dependent on the development of computer systems and the way in which users use them. The computers themselves have experienced tremendous changes through the rapidly changing environment of technology. Computers of the modern-day society are not like computers of the last few decades. These computers are not only small is size but they are considerably fast.

What is an operating system?

An operating system is a program that controls the execution of application programs and acts as an interface between the user of the computer and the hardware. It can also be defined as a system that is running on all programs at all times in a computer. It mainly entails sharing of resources such as memory, processors, devices and other information.

Functions of operating systems

Operating systems are known to perform three main functions which include convenience where an operating system makes a computer much more convenient to use. It also allows the systems in the computer to be used in an efficient manner. Operating systems should be constructed in such a way that it permits effective development, testing as well as the introduction of new system functions at the same time without having to interfere with the service.

Types of operating systems

There are several types of operating systems different in functions and resource allocation. Batch operating system is a type or operating system that sequences jobs in a program without using manual interventions. Tim sharing operating system is the type that allows many users to share the computer resources. Distributed operating system on the other hand manages a group of different computers and makes it appear like a single computer. Distributed operating systems manages different groups of different computers and makes it appear like a single computer. Network operating systems on the other hand as a case where computers running in different operating systems are able to participate in a common network. While real time operating systems means that the applications are able to deliver process within set deadlines.

First generation operating systems

The first-generation computers made use of mechanical relays and they were very slow with their cycle times measured in seconds. Invention of vacuum tubes replaced the relays and these machines were enormous, filing entire rooms with tens of thousands of vacuum tubes. However, they were slower than the cheapest personal computers that we have today.

These operating systems made use of a programming language known as machine language often through wiring plugboard in a computer and then hoping that none of the vacuum tubes would burn up during the run. All the problems were straightforward numerical calculations such as cosines, logarithms and grinding out tablets.

Operating systems in the 1950s

By the early 1950s the operating systems were well improved and followed the following usages; they were able to perform single stream batch processing, it is also able to use, common, standardized input/output routines for device access. Error recovery for programs that were terminated abnormally. The control languages that were put in place allowed the users to specify the job definition as well as resource requirements that were made possible. The program transition capabilities reduced the overhead time that was required to start new jobs.

These machines were referred to as main frame computers and were locked away specifically in air-conditioned computer rooms with staffs of operational computers to run them. They were very expensive in that only big corporations and government agencies could afford them.

Third generation

The system of the 1960s were mainly batch processing systems which were able to take better advantage of the computer resources through running several jobs at once. Operating systems designers were able to develop the concept of multiprogramming which were able to tackle several jobs at once and the processors were switched from time to time so as to keep advancing while keeping the peripheral devices in use.
For instance, in the system multiprogramming whenever the current job was paused so as to wait for the input/output operation to complete the CPU then simply sat idle until the input/output finished. The best solution for the problem was to partition the memory into several pieces with a different job in each partition.

Another major feature is the technique called spooling where high speed devices like disk that is interposed between a running program and a low speed device involved with the program in input/output. This simply implies that the programs can run faster while other programs are able to be initiated sooner once the printer becomes available.

Keep it in mind that spooling technique is much like thread being spun to a spool so that it may later be unwound as needed. Another feature is the time-sharing technique where a variety of multi-programming technique whereby the user has an online terminal. Since the user is present during interaction with the computer then the computer system has to respond quickly to the request otherwise the productivity of the user will suffer.

Fourth generation

Through the development of LSI that is large scale integration circuits the operating systems entered into the personal computer and workstation age. The technology of microprocessors developed to a point that it became possible to build desktop computers that were as powerful as the mainframes of the 1970s. there are two types of operating systems that have dominated the scene of personal computers. There is MS-DOS which was written by Microsoft Inc. as well as other machines that make use of the intel processor. Unix is also another dominant on the large personal computers which use the Motorola family.

In summary, most of the modern operating systems such as OS X and Linux trace their roots back to Unix. Microsoft windows was developed in response to a request from IBM for an operating system that was able to run its range of personal computers. The first OS that was built by Microsoft was called MS-DOS.