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Timeline of GNU/Linux and Unix

Jorn Barger October 2002 (updated Nov2002)


21yo Linus in 1991 [pic source]
31yo Ritchie, 29yo Thompson, and 2yo PDP-11 in 1972 [pic source]


1941: 09Sep: Dennis Ritchie born in Mt Vernon, NY
1943: 04Feb: Ken Thompson born in New Orleans [bio]
1944: Andrew S Tanenbaum born in White Plains, NY 1949: US DoJ sues Western Electric and AT&T for antitrust violations [cite]
1953: 16Mar: Richard Matthew Stallman born in NYC [bio]
1956: AT&T forbidden to market computer products [mjb3]

1956: Backus invents Fortran at IBM [history]
1957: development of ALGOL begins
1958: McCarthy invents LISP at MIT [memoir]
1960: Ken Olsen's DEC ships 1st of 53 PDP-1s [tech] [manuals-pdf]
1961: MIT's Compatible Timesharing System demonstrated on IBM 709 [cite]
1961: MIT buys a $120k PDP-1 [info] [specs]

1962: Nov: Licklider proposes Project MAC (Multiple Access Computers) [cite]
1963: CPL (Combined/Cambridge Programming Language) designed but never implemented [def]
1964: George Radin designs PL/I (Programming Language #1) at IBM [cite] [faq]
1964? 11yo Stallman reads IBM 7094 manual [bio]
1964: 'Munching Squares' demo on PDP-1 [info]

no-date: Project MAC spins off Multics project to create timesharing os 'Multics' (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service) [fansite] [review]

1964: Aug: Multics team chooses costly GE-645 (over IBM) for its memory-paging [cite]

1964: 11Oct: earliest suggestion of pipes [memo]
1965: Bell joins GE and MIT in Multics project
1965: Multics team chooses to optimise around PL/I language [cite]
1966: Thompson finishes at Berkeley, joins Bell on Multics project
1967: Martin Richards creates BCPL (Bootstrap/Basic CPL), 1st 'hello world' demo [info] [overview] [manual]

like later B and C: "Programs consist of a sequence of global declarations and function (procedure) declarations. Procedures can be nested..." [cite] (less insistent on semicolons; lone datatype is 'word')

1967: Ritchie finishes Harvard, joins Bell Labs
1967: DEC releases $110k PDP-10 [info] with os TOPS-10 [info] MIT substitutes os ITS (Incompatible Timesharing System). PDP-10 memory limited to 1Mb? [cite]

no-date: Linus's parents meet at protest rally
no-date: Thompson creates language 'Bon' (for wife Bonnie), unrelated to later 'B' except possibly the name [cite]

no-date: Canaday ports BCPL to Multics and GECOS [cite]
1968: Thompson begins writing for 4yo $72k PDP-7 w/8kb of 18-bit words, using GE-635 cross-assembler [cite] (to run Space Travel game: specs)

no-date: Multics can support only 3 users (not 1000) [cite]
1969: Multics design-document reaches unwieldy 3000 pages [extracts]
1969: Apr: Bell withdraws from Multics; Thompson starts pondering new os [cite]
1969: ARPAnet

1969: 28Dec: Linus Benedict Torvalds born in Helsinki, Finland (named for both Linus Pauling and Linus Van Pelt in the comic 'Peanuts') father Nils (Nicke) a lefty radio-reporter; mother Anna (Mikke); Swedish is 1st language; parents divorced early, father went to Russia [FAQ] [family]

1969: Thompson writes 1st Unix on PDP-7 in one month [info] based on Multics [interview] [comparison] [pix] one week each for original kernel, shell, editor, and assembler [cite] (assembler saves to 'a.out')

original process-table allowed only one process each for two terminals, swapped from RAM to disk; each new process had to overwrite the shell (and its memories), leaving only a bootstrap-loader; I/O already redirectable (w/standard files 0 and 1) [cite] adding 'fork' and 'exec' extended this process-table with minimal new code

1970: Kernighan suggests name 'UNICS' (Uniplexed Information & Computing Service) [cite]

1970: Thompson writes B language (as easier than Fortran; 'BCPL squeezed into 8kb'; single-pass; one datatype; de-referencing via '*'; output interpreted) [overview] [manual]

DEC announces PDP-11 [fansite] (will sell 250k)

1970: May: Bell orders $65k PDP-11/20 w/24kb RAM and 500k disk [tech] (max RAM 56kb; byte- not word- oriented) original justification was text-processing

1970: Sep? PDP-11 arrives but no disk until December [cite]

1971: Jan-Mar: Unix rewritten for PDP-11/20 (os uses 16k, files limited to 64kb due to PDP-11 wordsize of 16 bits) adds pathnames [cite]

1971: rethinking of B language to handle byte-orientation and (promised) floating-points will lead to C [cite] Ritchie starts writing 'NB' (new B)

1971: mid: PDP-11 shared with 3 patent-typists
1971: Stallman starts hacking ITS at MIT [cite]
1971: 03Nov: Unix version 1 written in B [cite] [manual pdf] (60+ commands) kernel is 10k lines [cite]

1972: 07Jan: Thompson's B manual [etext]
1972: Ritchie creates C language [cite] [history][FAQ] [early compiler code]

1972: 15Mar? Ritchie's notes for Unix talk [etext]

"it is able to pick up characters from typewriter terminals even when they come only a few milliseconds apart"

"UNIX is essentially a two-man operation at present"

no-date: PDP-11/45 supports 256k core (bytes or words?)

1972: Jun: 2nd edition of Unix Programmer's Manual claims ten installations [cite]

1972: 06Dec: Unix version 2 written mostly by Thompson in C [cite]

1973: 15Jan: Unix version 3 introduces pipes [cite] [man pages] text streams as universal interface [cite]

multiprogramming added

1973: #include and #define added to C [1974 tutorial]

1973: 31Aug: Unix kernel rewritten in C [archive]

1973: 15Oct: Thompson presents R&T's "The UNIX Time-Sharing System" at Symposium on Operating System Principles (pub in CACM 1974: pdf, troff?) [rev etext]

"one of the best and clearest pieces of writing in the computer field"

1973: Nov: Unix version 4 [cite] [man pages]
1973: Nov: Berkeley gets interested in Unix [cite] buys PDP-11/45, ports INGRES database project

Berkeley Unix-research coordinated by Bob Fabry [Salon]

1974? AT&T decides to supply Unix-source free to academia [cite]

1974: 15May: Unix User Group at Columbia (will become Usenix Association) [cite]
1974: Jun: Unix version 5 [cite] [source code]
1974: summer: Heinz Lycklama produces 8kb subset of Unix for DEC's LSI-11 microprocessor, called LSI-UNIX or LSX [info]

"If only Western Electric had found a way to offer binary licenses for the UNIX system back then, the UNIX system would be running on all PC's today rather than DOS/Windows."

1975: May: Unix version 6 [cite] [source code]
1975: fall: Unix version 6 installed on Berkeley's new PDP-11/70 [cite] Ken Thompson does line-by-line walkthru at Berkeley [cite]

1975: 21yo Bill Joy enters Berkeley grad school [Salon]
1976: Jan: 1st issue of "Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontia" (aka DDJ) [cite]

Dobb = Dennis Allison and Bob Albrecht

1976: Stallman writes first Emacs in TECO
1976: Xerox invents Ethernet
1976: Sep: Unix licensed by 138 institutions [cite]

1977: early: first 'Berkeley Software Distribution' with Pascal and editor (ex) [cite] $50 for tape [cite] for PDP only

Bill Joy writes vi and first termcap [pranks]

1977: Unix v6 ported for first time, to Interdata [proposal] [source]

1977: May: Lycklama's 'Mini Unix' subset of v6 for PDP11s w/o memory-management [specs] [source code] (12kb expansion of LSX)

1977: UK Unix Users Group [cite]
1977: 1st commercial Unix from Interactive (still PDP-11 only) [cite]

1977: Apple Computer founded
1977: Ritchie's 'Unix Retrospective' paper [etext]
1977? Randall Howard, 16yo Johann George and Robert Swartz (U of Waterloo grads) write Unix clone 'Coherent' (for PDP?) [cite]

1977: Robert Swartz [GooJa] repositions father's paint company (Mark Williams Chemical Company named after William Mark Swartz) as software house 'Mark Williams Company', porting Coherent to 8088 [history] Swartz and/or Stephen Davis hire topnotch crew [cite]

1978: Unix Timesharing System version 7 (UTS) [cite]
1978: K&R's "The C Programming Language"

1978: PJ Plauger's 'Idris' is Unix clone for PDP-11 [cite] [history] [still posting] [ditto] purposely incompatible [cite]

1978: mid: Second Berkeley Software Distribution (2BSD) with Pascal, vi, termcap, Mail, more, csh, ex

no-date: DEC unwisely refuses to support Unix [cite]
1978: 08Jun: Intel releases 16-bit 8086 [cite] [tech] [critique] designed in ten weeks as stopgap [cite]

1978: Jul: Thompson-Ritchie paper revised [etext]
1978: Berkeley adds virtual memory to Unix 7 [cite]
no-date: Lions' annotated Unix source circulates in xerox form [Salon]

1979: Jan: Unix version 7 [source code] [pdf manual] adds Bourne shell, awk, lint, make, uucp; find, cpio, expr; large file-systems, unlimited users [cite] kernel is still just 40kb

system calls: exit, access, acct, alarm, brk, chdir, chmod, chown, chroot, close, creat, dup, dup2, exec, exit, fork, fstat, ftime, getegid, geteuid, getgid, getpid, getuid, gtty, indir, ioctl, kill, link, lock, lseek, mknod, mount, mpxcall, nice, open, pause, phys, pipe, pkoff, pkon, profil, ptrace, read, sbrk, setgid, setuid, signal, stat, stime, stty, sync, tell, time, times, umask, umount, unlink, utime, wait, write

no-date: AT&T tightens academic license [cite]

1979: Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) founded by Doug and Larry Michels to create Unix ports [cite]

1979: Motorola introduces 68000 16-bit CPU

1979: IBM prototypes PC using still-scarce 68000 (will substitutes cheaper 8088, used in DisplayWriter) [cite]

1979: 01Jun: Intel introduces 8088 as discount 8-bit version of 8086 [cite] IBM chooses 8088 for 'short run' PC [info]

1979: Jun: Unix 32V for VAX [source code]
1979: Dec: 3BSD is 32-bit port of 2BSD w/virtual memory and C shell [cite]

1980: Bell Labs finally shows interest in BSD Unix [cite]
1980: Berkeley gets DARPA money because of VAX experience, starts CSRG (Comp Systems Research Group) [cite]

1980: users group for unlicensed (binary-only) users called 'usr' (later UniForum) [cite]

1980: Aug: Microsoft's 1st-ever os 'Xenix' announced for 8086-et-al, based partly on BSD [history] will be largely developed by SCO, heavily used at MS for software development and documentation

1980? SCO distributes Microsoft Xenix [cite]
1980: Oct: 4BSD incl Franz Lisp, DARPA enhancements [cite]

1980: Oct: Microsoft starts developing DOS? [cite]

1981: May-Jun: Bill Joy posts as "CSVAX.wnj@Berkeley" [3 posts] as "arpavax:wnj" [unGooglable?] and "ARPAVAX.wnj@Berkeley" [1 post] and "wnj@krypton" [1 post]

1981: Jun: Byte magazine article on Xenix by MS product-mng [cite]
1981: Jun: Austin Unix conference [program]

1981: Jun: '4.1BSD' includes speed tweaks [cite] and Delivermail [cite]

1981: Jul: Sun's 68000 workstations shipping with UniSoft or MS Xenix? [cite] [history&tech] (other Sun-board boxes by Codata, Cyb, Pacific, Callan, and Forward?)

no-date: Unix lookalikes include: Onyx, Zeus, Cromix, Omnyx

1981: Jul: Microsoft buys 86-DOS from Seattle Computer for $25k [cite] pure CP/M 1.4 ripoff? [cite]

1981: 12Aug: IBM announces PC [cite]
1981: MIT AI-lab split by commercialisation
1981: ad for Unix in Datamation [jpeg]

no-date: CP/M 2.2

1981? 37yo professor Andy Tanenbaum of Free University in Amsterdam starts work on Minix teaching-system in response to AT&T's stricter license [cite]

1981: Oct: IBM ships PC [hardware info]
1981: 12Dec: oldest post to net.bugs.2bsd
1982: 01Feb: Intel intros 80286 with protected memory mode [cite] [critique]

1982: Linus writing games on grandfather's Vic 20 (bought 1980) reading scifi and horror

1982: AT&T's 1st commercial Unix, System III [cite]

no-date: AT&T 6300 w/PC Unix

no-date: Inix

1982: Feb: imminent (1984?) MS Xenix 3.0 will be based on System III but include some 4.1BSD? [net.micro] [cite] IBM's version for AT will be called IBM Xenix 1.0; Tandy's version called Tandy 68000/Xenix 3.0 [cite]

1982: Apr: '4.1aBSD' adds TCP/IP and rlogin, etc [cite] [Salon] sendmail? [Salon-2pg]

1982: Apr: 1st mention of 8088 port of Coherent [net.micro] [more] runs in 128k [specs] $500 [cite]

1982: Bill Joy moves from Berkeley to Sun [cite]
1982? Stallman starts GNU project
1982: Sun builds 68000-based Unix boxes
1982: Nov: Microsoft promises Xenix ports for PDP-11 (just rebranded Western Electric version: cite), 8086, Z8000, and 68000 [cite]
1983: Berkeley spins off UniSoft and 'mt Xinu Inc' (Ed Gould, Bob Kridle) [annc]
1983: SCO Xenix-86 released [cite]

1983: Feb: SCO Xenix-286 mentioned on netnews [net.micro.pc] also Xenix-86 [net.sources]

1983: Apr: '4.1cBSD' with improved filesystem [cite]
1983: spring: IBM XT w/8086 [cite]
1983: Jun: Unix Review compares six Unix-compatibles for IBM PCs [summary]

'uNETix' from Lantech ($298)
'Venix' from VenturCom ($400) [crit]
'Coherent' from Mark Williams ($500) [crit]
'QNX' from Quantum Software ($650)
'Idris' from Whitesmith's ($1100)
'Microcard 68k' from Sritek ($2695)

no-date: commercial Unix ports to x86 w/o source will fizzle [cite]

1982: Jun: Unix-lookalikes for 68000: [net.unix-wizards]

UniSoft v7 (Jeff Schriebman; includes BSD improvements)
Xenix 2.2 v7 (Microsoft, no BSD code)
Fortune v7 (ditto MicroDaSys, Dual)
MIT v7 (ditto Stanford, SMI, Cadlink)
Lucasfilm v7
Whitesmith's Idris
Wicat v7 w/MCS kernel
Charles River Data Systems UNOS
Mark Williams' Coherent (incomplete)
[most of these use Xenix or UniSoft]

"an instruction that is aborted in the middle by any sort of memory management fault cannot in general be restarted; thus, demand paging is totally impossible... [Unix] can't really survive on floppies. A 5-10Mb [harddrive] is the minimum configuration" Western Electric charging $45k for source licenses [cite] Xenix requires 5Mb plus 2Mb for compiler [cite]

1982: Aug: Altos offers 8086 w/Xenix 2.3? [net.news.newsite]
1982: 15Sep: MS brochure claims Xenix is shipping [cite]

no-date: Tandy chooses CRDS UNOS for Model 16, but switches to Xenix due to storage size-limits [cites]

no-date: Tandy ports MS Xenix 2.3 to Model 16, calling it TRS-Xenix 1.0 [cite]

1983? Apple Lisa runs MS Xenix? [cite]

1983: DEC abandons PDP-10, MIT shifts to VAX w/Unix
1983: MIT launches Project Athena (networked workstations) to replace Multics [history] [cite] [info]

1983: Aug: 4.2BSD released [cite]
1983: 27Sep: Stallman announces GNU project [net.unix-wizards] [background]

"Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu's Not Unix), and give it away free to everyone who can use it. Contributions of time, money, programs and equipment are greatly needed.

To begin with, GNU will be a kernel plus all the utilities needed to write and run C programs: editor, shell, C compiler, linker, assembler, and a few other things. After this we will add a text formatter, a YACC, an Empire game, a spreadsheet, and hundreds of other things. We hope to supply, eventually, everything useful that normally comes with a Unix system, and anything else useful, including on-line and hardcopy documentation.

GNU will be able to run Unix programs, but will not be identical to Unix. We will make all improvements that are convenient, based on our experience with other operating systems. In particular, we plan to have longer filenames, file version numbers, a crashproof file system, filename completion perhaps, terminal-independent display support, and eventually a Lisp-based window system through which several Lisp programs and ordinary Unix programs can share a screen. Both C and Lisp will be available as system programming languages. We will have network software based on MIT's chaosnet protocol, far superior to UUCP. We may also have something compatible with UUCP. [...]

I consider that the golden rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. I cannot in good conscience sign a nondisclosure agreement or a software license agreement."

1984: Jan: Stallman quits MIT for GNU [cite]
1984: Jan: Lauren Weinstein [GooJa] writes UUCP for Coherent [annc]

1984: Jan: Sinclair QL uses 68008 [info]
no-date: 14yo Linus upgrades from Vic20 to Sinclair QL (no drive); only software bought is assembler [cite]

"I always liked QDos" [1992]

1984: AT&T divested, Unix becomes commercial product; source code restricted

1984: 750 universities have Unix licenses [cite]
1984: X/Open formed by 5 European computer manufacturers: Bull, ICL, Siemens, Olivetti, and Nixdorf (BISON) [cite]

1984: Levy's book 'Hackers' glamorises Stallman
June 1984 to May 1987: Keith Bostic posts as "keith@seismo.UUCP" [55 posts]

1984: IBM AT w/286
1984: Apr: David Cheriton's "The V kernel: A software base for distributed systems" [cite] [info] [more] [most]

includes VGTS display server? [cite]

1984: Paul Asente's "W Reference Manual" at Stanford (also Brian Reid and Chris Kent) [cite] "W provides graphics windows based on a simple display-list mechanism"

W, derived from V, will inspire X

1984: Jun: Robert Scheifler extends W and calls it X [GooJa] [crit]

no-date: MS Xenix System V begins new numbering scheme: IBM calls it IBM Xenix 2.0, SCO calls it SCO Xenix 2.0 [cite]

1984: earliest SCO copyrights on Xenix 3.x [cite]

1984? Aug: MS Xenix for PC (SCO says 1983)
1984: Sep: Stallman starts GNU Emacs [cite] distributes source for $150

1985: Stallman founds Free Software Foundation [cite]
1985: Mar: GNU Manifesto in Dr Dobbs [etext] [GooJa reactions]

1985: POSIX standard (Portable Operating System) to reconcile BSD and AT&T variants [cite] [history]
1985: X-Windows distributed as free [cite]
1985: X/Open Portability Guide [cite]
1985: SCO Xenix-286 [cite]
1985: 15Jul: Emacs 16.56 (rewritten under copyright pressure from UniPress) [timeline]

1985: 17Oct: Intel 80386DX can address 4 gigs [info] [cite] [critique]

1985: Dec? GNU Emacs General Public License [etext]
1985: Dec: comparison of IBM Xenix 1.0 and PC/IX [net.micro.pc]
1986: MS Xenix 286
1986: Larry Wall starts Perl development [Salon-3pg]
Dec 1985 to Sep 1987: Stallman posts as "rms@prep.ai.mit.edu (Richard M. Stallman)" [55 posts] (mainly Emacs-related)

no-date: DECstation's Ultrix is port of 4.2BSD [cite]

1986: "Design of the Unix Operating System" by Maurice J Bach
1986: Jun: 4.3BSD adds speed tweaks [cite]
1986: summer: Idris 2.2 ported to Atari ST [cite]

no-date: Andy Tanenbaum gets PhD from Berkeley, emigrates to Amsterdam [faq] [pic]

1986: Nov: Andy Tanenbaum [GooJa] [more] rewrites Unix from scratch for a teaching system on PC/XT/AT/386, released by Prentice-Hall as $80 Minix (incl 54k lines of copyrighted source code: defense) [specs] [netnews] [FAQ] [old FAQ] [old info] [history]

1987: Jan: Tanenbaum's book "Operating Systems: Design and Implementation" [cite]
1987: 16Jan: Usenet newsgroup comp.os.minix

1986: Dec? 1st mention of GNU General Public License [GooJa pattern]

1987: Feb: GNU C compiler (gcc) starts circulating [GooJa pattern] 110k lines of code

1987: SCO hosts '386 Summit' and 'Xenix 386 Developer Conference' [cite]

1987: Jul? SCO Xenix 386 [cite] [GooJa] [museum]

1987: 01Oct: Michael Travers of MIT Media Lab starts Unix-haters mailinglist [history] [archive zip]

no-date: SCO sabotages Intel ABI program? [cite]

1987: Dec: IBM releases OS/2
1988: 09Jan: gcc 1.17 improves stability
1988: 14Mar: Ken Olsen compares Unix to snake-oil (widely misinterpreted) [context]

"Asked to comment on the recent uproar over the AT&T and Sun Microsystems Inc. Unix-development alliance, Olsen, without mentioning particular companies, likened some vendors of Unix products to 'snake oil' salesmen and said the claim that Unix will resolve incompatibility problems within multi-vendor networks is 'a naive idea.'"

1988: 12May: earliest gnu.gcc post
1988: 18May: earliest gnu.emacs.bug post
1988: Jun: 1st(??) mention of GNU General Public License [etext]
1988: Jun: 4.3BSD-Tahoe breaks out machine-independent section [cite]

1988: 16Jun: Intel's 80386SX with 16-bit bus [cite]
1988: 22Jul: Keith Bostic calls for BSD contributions [comp.unix.wizards] more

1988: AT&T invests in Sun, threatening Unix dominance [cite]
1988: Open Software Foundation (IBM, DEC, HP, et al) [cite] builds on Mach and IBM's AIX; develops Motif

1988: NeXT chooses Mach kernel
1988: 18yo Linus starts at University of Helsinki [website]
1989: Feb: GNU General Public License version 1.0 [etext]

1989: Jun: open-source components of 4.3BSD released as Networking Release 1 [cite]

1989: AT&T System V v4.0 unifies Xenix, SunOS, 4.3BSD [cite]

1989: Bill and Lynne Jolitz conceive free 386BSD [cite]
1989: Jun? Linus starts 11 months of Finnish military officer-training [date]
1989: SCO UNIX System V/386 [cite]
1989: Microsoft buys 16% of SCO for $25M [cite]
1990: early: 4.3BSD-Reno includes improved virtual memory via Mach [cite]

1990: Linus takes first C programming class, learns Digital Unix
1990: GNU's focus shifts to HURD kernel [cite] [theory] HURD kernel includes 'Alix' components [anecdote]

1990: Stallman wins $240k MacArthur genius-grant
1990: May: discussion of 386 Minix future [comp.os.minix]
1990: May: Coherent 3.x for $99? [FAQ] [cite]
1990: 22May: Windows 3.0, supports 386 [cite]
1990: Fred van Kempen adds Posix-compatibility to Minix [GooJa search]

1990: Jun: Jolitz demos 386 BSD at USENIX Anaheim [cite]
1990: 28Aug: oldest comp.unix.sysv386

Nov 1990 to March 1996: Lars Wirzenius posting as "Lars Wirzenius (wirzeniu@cs.Helsinki.FI)" [82 posts]

1990: Nov: Coherent 3.1 for $100 [GooJa]

Dec 1990 to Dec 1996: Linus posting as "Linus Torvalds (torvalds@cs.Helsinki.FI)" [417 posts] (sometimes with middle name too)

1990: 04Dec: 1st GooJa post by Linus [alt.folklore.urban]
1991: 01Jan: 2nd post, to [comp.lang.c]
1991: Jan: 21yo Linus buys 33MHz 386sx PC w/40Mb drive to play 'Prince of Persia' [game info] (hardware prices dropping dramatically)

Jan 1991 to Jul 1992: Dr Dobb's publishes series by William Jolitz on porting BSD to 386 [bib] [thread] Jan: "Porting UNIX to the 386: A Practical Approach"

1991: Feb? Berkeley includes Jolitz's free-but-incomplete 386 BSD on updated Networking Release 2 [cite]

no-date: Linus writes terminal emulator (or standalone newsreader?) for 386

1991: Apr: Linux-idea starts brewing; Linus uses Tanenbaum's 1987 book, Bach's 1986 book, and the Jolitz articles starting to run in Dr Dobbs

1) a simple 386-assembly task-switcher ("it switched between two processes that printed AAAA... and BBBB... respectively by using the timer-interrupt")
2) a keyboard driver in assembler
3) serial drivers
4) a simple terminal program ("the same two processes... read and wrote to the console/serial lines")
5) started using C
6) harddisk driver ("seriously buggy")
7) a small filesystem [cite] [more]

1991: Apr: comp.os.coherent newsgroup

May 1991 to March 1994: Lars Wirzenius posts from "wirzeniu@klaava.Helsinki.FI" [1030 posts]

May 1991 to : Linus posts as "Linus Benedict Torvalds (torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI)" [749 posts]

1991: Jun: GNU General Public License version 2.0 [etext]
1991: Jun: BSD Networking Release 2 includes all but six Unix files [cite]

1991: Sun announces Solaris [cite] buys Interactive from Intel
1991: Jun: Coherent 3.2 [GooJa]
1991: 30Jun: end of Project Athena at MIT [cite]
1991: 03Jul: Linus posts to comp.os.minix [44 posts] meets Ari Lemmke from HUT
1991: Jul: Mark Williams Company abuses trivial patent? [gnu.misc thread]
1991: 25Aug: Linus solicits os-suggestions from comp.os.minix [thread]

"I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months [...] Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.

[...] It's mostly in C, but most people wouldn't call what I write C. It uses every conceivable feature of the 386 I could find, as it was also a project to teach me about the 386. As already mentioned, it uses a MMU, for both paging (not to disk yet) and segmentation. It's the segmentation that makes it REALLY 386 dependent (every task has a 64Mb segment for code & data - max 64 tasks in 4Gb. Anybody who needs more than 64Mb/task - tough cookies). [...] Some of my "C"-files (specifically mm.c) are almost as much assembler as C. [...] Unlike minix, I also happen to LIKE interrupts, so interrupts are handled without trying to hide the reason behind them"

Linus's original planned name was 'freax' [cite] (Linus thought of it as linux, short for Linus-Minix, but didn't want to appear egotistical. Ari Lemmke [GooJa] prevailed against 'freax'.)

1991: Sep: linux 0.01 (64kb) [docs] [source]
1991: 05Oct: linux 0.02, first mention of directory-name 'linux' on netnews [comp.os.minix]

1991: 01Dec: Bill Jolitz splits from BSDI over ambiguous open-source issues, destroying his work there [cite] [background] [replies] [Lynne] [reply]

[He had gotten] "a letter from CSRG unilaterally cancelling Berkeley involvement in 386BSD, and claiming all the work that I had contributed to Berkeley since NET/2 as 'University proprietary'." [they deny this]

no-date: mailing-list "linux-activists@niksula.hut.fi"
no-date: status-updates via "finger torvalds@kruuna.helsinki.fi"

1991: Dec: Linux 0.11 [source] adds floppy-driver; now 'standalone' [cite]
1992-1993: Linus lampoons other's .sigs on alt.fan.warlord
1992: Jan: Linux 0.12 = 0.9 [docs] (12k lines?; disk-paging; job-control by tytso) [cite]
1992: Mar? Orest Zborowski [GooJa] [more] adopts Linux for X386 (later XFree86) [alt.os.linux] [history]

1992: Jan: BSDI starts selling BSD binaries and source for $1k, setting off lawsuit by AT&T-subsidiary [info] (BSD developers reluctant to commit time with outcome uncertain, many switching to Linux)

1992: 22Jan: 1st Linux FAQ [alt.os.linux] [more]
1992: 23Jan: newgroup alt.os.linux
1992: 29Jan: comp.os.minix thread [more] 'Linux is obsolete' started by Andy Tanenbaum [ORA] [LT apology]

"...among the people who actually design operating systems, the debate is essentially over. Microkernels have won."

1992: 01Feb: Linux and GNU join forces [cite]
1992: Feb: comp.os.coherent debates linux with Linus [thread]
1992: 13Mar: (not 17Mar 1991!) William and Lynne Jolitz release 386BSD 0.0 [official] [pr] [cite] more [Salon-2pg] [tech]

1992: 19Mar: Jolitz memoir "The Road Not Taken" [comp.unix.bsd]
1992: 21Mar: Linus calls Linux "this small project I've been working on" [alt.fan.warlord]

1992: BSDI releases beta of commercial BSD/386 [cite] [defense] [thread]

Jolitz's free version was usually called 386BSD (sometimes '386 BSD' or 386/BSD), BSDI's was BSD/386 (sometimes BSDI/386) (I think)

1992: Mar: Linux 0.95 [docs] (180kb kernel) [FAQ] [compared to 386BSD]
1992: adoption of CD-ROM standard makes convenient distribution of Unix-sized codebases possible (Yggdrasil offers Linux)

1992: 31Mar: newgroup comp.os.linux
1992: Apr: Unix Review publishes survey "Unix Variants"
1992: Apr: Linux 0.96 can run X-Windows
1992: Apr: Lucid Emacs forks [history]
1992: 11May: Coherent 4.0 for $100 [pr] 32-bit; 100k kernel runs in 1Mb
1992: 14Jul: 386BSD 0.1, eventually gets downloaded 250k times (18 month lag before 1.0, giving advantage to Linux)

1992: MS announces Windows NT
1992: NetBSD forks from 386BSD [cite] FreeBSD project turns NetBSD into distro

1992: 18Sep: first proposed comp.os.linux split (only .announce passes) [news.groups]

no-date: Unix-clone ESIX [price comparisons]

Oct 1992 to Oct 1997: Stallman posts as "Richard Stallman (rms@gnu.ai.mit.edu)" [1500 posts]

1992: 13Oct: Linux News #1 [comp.os.linux] [14 issues]

1992: 17Nov: Rick Sladkey [GooJa] adds NFS (Network File System) support [cite] [annc]

1993: 01Jan: 1st mention of Linux Documentation Project (LDP) [Linux News #9]
1993: 24Jan: status report on LDP [comp.os.linux.announce]
1993: 14Feb: Matt Welsh takes over LDP [comp.os.linux.announce] [manifesto]

1993: Mar: Sun caves in and adopts OSF's Motif [cite]
1993: Novell buys Unix (USL = Unix Systems Labs) from AT&T, settles lawsuit [cite]

1993: TurboLinux (Pacific HiTech) founded [Salon]
1993: SCO IPO [cite]
1993: XFree86 released

1993: 03Jun: 2nd comp.os.linux split (passes: bugs, kernel, apps, questions) [news.groups]

no-date: Linus forks TCP development, favoring Alan Cox over Fred van Kempen [cite]

1993: Aug: Ian Murdock's Debian GNU/Linux distro (Murdock works for FSF until 1996, replaced by Bruce Perens: cite)

1993: autumn: Linus meets future partner, karate champion Tove Monni [pic] [cite] [name]
1993: Oct: Novell gives Unix name-rights to X/Open [cite]
no-date: Novell charges Sun $82M for source license [cite]
1993: BSDI offers BSD/386 for $1000 w/source [cite] [thread]
1993: Dec: 386BSD 1.0 [tech]; FreeBSD 1.0

1994: Jan: Debian version 0.91
1994: Marc Ewing begins the Red Hat GNU/Linux distro
1994: Mar: Linux Journal founded by Phil Hughes [#1 etext] [archive]

1994: 14Mar: Linux 1.0 (1Mb) [source]
1994: Apr? Rachael Padman's anti-Unix rant 'Requiem' [etext]
1994: spring: Linus gets BSc degree
1994: Jun: 4.4BSD-Lite released as open-source with Novell's okay [cite] also 4.4BSD-Encumbered which required Novell source-license (BSDI, NetBSD, and FreeBSD port to Lite)

1994? OpenBSD spins off from NetBSD [cite]
1994: May: FreeBSD 1.1

Digital finances port of Linux to DEC Alpha

1994: IDG publishes Unix-Haters Handbook [extracts] [toc] [review] [crit]
1994: Lucid Emacs renamed XEmacs
1994: 14Sep: 3rd comp.os.linux reorg (help.hardware, software, video, misc, answers) [news.groups]
1994: Oct: Caldera founded by Ransom Love and Bryan Sparks

1995: Jan: FreeBSD 2.0
1995: 31Jan: Mark Williams Company goes out of business [cite]
1995: Mar: Linux kernel 1.2 [source] [cite] (2Mb)
1995: Apache 0.6.2 [Salon-2pg]
1995: Transmeta founded
1995: Jun: 4.4BSD-Lite, Release 2 [cite]
1995: Jul: 1st issue of Linux Gazette [etext] [archive]

1995? MS sells Xenix to SCO
1995: SCO buys Unix from Novell [cite]
1995: Sep: impostor registers Linux trademark [settled 1997]
1995: Nov: Alpha Linux released [history]
1995: Nov: brief affair between Stallman and net.celeb Doctress Neutopia [info]

1996: 09May: Linus suggests penguin ('Tux') as Linux mascot [history]
1996: Stallman self-parody as 'St Ignucius' [bio]
1996: Jun: discussion of 'Lignus' name for GNU/Linux [GooJa]

1996: 09Jun: Linux 2.0 much improved [source] [cite] (5Mb)
1996: Aug: FreeBSD 2.1.5
1996: autumn: Free Software Foundation staff defection
1996: Oct: KDE project announced
1996: 05Dec: Linus's 1st daughter born [annc] [pix] [family]

1997: Stallman objects to KDE's use of Qt
1997: Linus joins Transmeta
1997: Miguel de Icaza starts GNOME project (GNU Network Object Model Environment) [cite]

1997: 05May: Caldera's OpenLinux 1.1
1997: 21May: Eric Raymond presents 'Cathedral and Bazaar' talk [etext] [cite]

1997: 12Jun: Hurd kernel version 0.2
1997: 15Aug: GCC/egcs split [gnu.misc.discuss] (Enhanced GNU Compiler System)
1997: summer: pre-Slashdot 'Chips & Dips' [history] [Wayback] [more]

1997: Nov: 1st issue of Linux Focus [etext] [archives]
1997: 03Dec: EGCS 1.0 [annc]
1997: Dec? Slashdot opens [Salon] [Wayback] [more]

1998: 01Apr: Netscape releases unfinished Navigator 5.0 source
1998: Apr: Salon interview with ESR [2pg]
1998: Apr: Ingres II database ported (beta) to Linux [cite]
1998: Jul: Debian 2.0; KDE 1.0
1998: Jul: Informix database ported to Linux [cite]
1998: LinuxCare founded [Salon]
1998: 10Aug: Linus on cover of Forbes

1998: late: Linus focuses on adding SMP support (Symmetric Multi-Processors) [faq]
1998: Sep: 'Halloween Documents' leaked from Microsoft
1998: 16Oct: FreeBSD 3.0

1999: 25Jan: Linux kernel 2.2.0 (buggy) [source] [cite] (10Mb)
1999? European Commission frees SCO of Xenix-related obligation to MS [cite]

1999: Apple releases (most of) Darwin under 'Apple Public Source License' [cite] Mach 3.0 microkernel, BSD wrapping

1999: Apr: egcs renamed gcc 2.95
1999: May: development starts on 2.3 kernel
1999: Aug: Red Hat IPO [Salon bkgd]
1999: 09Dec: record-setting VA Linux IPO

2000: 13Jan? MS sells stake in SCO [cite]
2000: 19Jan: Transmeta announces Crusoe
2000: 13Mar: FreeBSD 4.0
2000: Apr: Minix retroactively open-sourced [cite]
2000: Aug: Caldera acquires (parts of) SCO
2000: 05Sep: Stallman responds to Qt's re-release under GPL [article]

2001: 04Jan: Linux kernel 2.4 [source]
2002: Mar: O'Reilly releases Stallman bio as open-source [etext]
2002: Caldera changes name to SCO Group

sources: LT bio, history, Salon FSP, RMS bio, Ritchie archive, Unix family tree, variants, history essay, ditto, Unix timeline

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