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A computer operating system developed by Bell Labs in 1969, that is now being developed by many other corporations. UNIX is mainly used as a multi-user server environment, which is ironic since its name is a play on the name Multics, a time-sharing operating system jointly developed by Bell Labs, M.I.T. and General Electric. UNIX was billed as a simpler OS than Multics, while still supporting multitasking in a multi-user environment.

UNIX is often used to run computer systems at universities and large corporations. UNIX market share was starting to dwindle before the Internet explosion, when the need for fast, reliable Web servers sparked its revival. Most of the first web servers were developed in UNIX environments. There is a free, open source version of UNIX called FreeBSD. UNIX was initially a command line-only operating system, but now supports many graphical user environments. Most recently, UNIX/FreeBSD code has been adapted to create Apple’s OS X for the Macintosh.

Trivia: One of the former Multics developers from Bell Labs was Ken Thompson, who became a primary developer of UNIX. For this and other reasons, aspects of the Multics design that may have been “stolen” in UNIX remain a topic of occasional debate among hackers.

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