When it struck the year 2000, computer operating systems finished half a century in existence. The efficient systems that entered the scene in the nineteen nineties are a successor to the batch processing systems of the early nineteen fifties.
Just like the operating systems have undergone much evolution since they were first invented, the definition has also had to change from time to time so as to fit the moment. The nineteen sixties had the world defining operating systems as the software that was responsible for the direction or control of the hardware.
The emergence of microcode has shifted the definition and nowadays operating systems are defined as the software whose duty is to make the hardware possible to use. Operating systems comprises a set of programs that basically control the computer. Abbreviated as OS or O/S, operating systems form the software component of a computer that handles the coordination and management of computer resources.
It also controls the sharing of the computer resources by acting as a host of the applications that are carried out or done in the computer. It is true that no computer functions in the current world of computers without making use of an operating system.
This applies to handheld computers, desk top computers, video game consoles and super computers. The batch processors mentioned above that were the forerunners of current operating systems were produced by a couple of companies such as UNIVAC and Control Data Corporation.
Components of an operating system
Operating systems are composed of different areas such as kernel services, library services and application level services. Kernel services are charged with the responsibility of providing a path to the peripheral components or devices.
Usually, the kernel answers the device interrupts and responds to service requests from the processes taking place. I t is the core of the operating system and functions in a privileged manner that supports the execution of orders from the hardware. Library services in the operating system deals with the storage of no-processed and processed data. This is retrievable for use in future in case it is required for reference or processing.
The other component of the operating system is the application services part or component whose function is primarily to coordinate the running of the application area of the system.
The historical progression or advancement of operating systems
Since the period of the batch systems, so much has happened in the world of computer operating systems. The most productive period in computer operating systems evolution took place in the sixties and seventies. This is the time when much of the now famous and widely used and highly effective computer operating systems were invented.
The earliest operating systems or the so called classic operating systems came out in distinct times. These times can be broken down to a number of phases. The first phase is the open shop which saw the introduction of the IBM 701 open shop. The period in which this came out was the year nineteen fifty four.
The batch processing period gave us the batch processing phase that went a head to bring forth the well known BKS system. This was the year nineteen sixty one. The batch processing phase was followed by the multiprogramming phase .
This phase was responsible for the production or invention of up to four serious operating systems. These systems were the atlas supervisor in nineteen sixty one, the B5000 system in nineteen sixty four, the exec II system in nineteen sixty six and the egdon system that came out in the year nineteen sixty six as well.
The fourth phase in this line of classic operating systems was the timesharing phase. This phase saw the emergence of operating systems such as CTSS that came out in nineteen sixty two, the multics file system that came out in the year nineteen sixty five, and the titan file system that was produced in nineteen seventy two.
The UNIX operating system that came out in nineteen seventy two also falls into the timesharing category.
Still on the idea of operating system production and functional phases, the timesharing phase pushes us on to the concurrent programming phase. At this angle, a number of operating systems are recognized.
These include the solo program text of nineteen seventy six, the solo system of nineteen seventy six, the THE system that came out in nineteen sixty eight, the Venus system that came out in nineteen seventy two, the RC 4000 that was invented in the year nineteen sixty nine and the boss 2 system that was produced in the year nineteen seventy five.
The concurrent programming phase is closely followed by the personal computing phase .In this particular phase, operating systems that are still highly respected in the world of computing such as the star user interface produced in nineteen eighty two, the operating system produced in nineteen seventy two simply referred to as the OS, the alto system of nineteen seventy nine and the pilot system of nineteen eighty are highly considered.
Then there is the last phase which is the phase of distributed systems. The distributed systems that are found in this phase include the highly admired and valued Unix United System that came out in nineteen eighty two, the amoeba system of nineteen eighty, and the Unix United RPC system that appeared in the world of computing in the year nineteen eighty two.
There is also the WFS file server system that was produced in the year nineteen seventy nine.
In the world of evolution of operating systems, there are strong principles that always dictate the nature and operational capability of an operating system. These basic ideas or principles are the ones that always lead to the rise or invention of the technical benchmarks that led to the design of the operating systems in question.
The history of computer operating system evolution is littered with these basic ideas that gave rise or formed the ground for the formulation of the operating systems we now know and use. These basic ideas or core ideas of operating systems developed through phases as well just like the operating systems themselves.
These phases include the open shop, the batch processing phase, the multiprogramming phase, the timesharing phase, the concurrent programming phase, the personal computing phase, and the distributed systems phase.
The technical ideas that emerged during these phases include the remote servers that came out in the phase of the distributed computer operating systems, the simultaneous user interaction and the online file systems that came out during the phase of timesharing, and the graphic user interfaces that came out in the group of personal computer operating systems emergence.
The parallel programming concepts, the extensive kernels, the secure parallel languages and the hierarchical systems as technical ideas also came out during the phase of concurrent programming.
Added to these, are idea of operating systems itself that came out in the phase of open systems, the technical element of tape batching and first in and first out scheduling that emerged at the time of batch processing, the technical ideas of demand paging, priority scheduling, remote job entry, input –output spooling, processor multiplexing and indivisible operations that arose at the hot period of multiprogramming (Aho, 1984).
Moving from the period of technical ideas innovation or invention, the history of operating systems also covers the mode or way of operation that was normally used in the process of trying to get work done using the poorly designed operating systems.
At the time of the IBM open shop, life with the computers of the time was terribly hard and a long time was spent trying to achieve some simple targets. Workers would sit before computers waiting for their data to be processed to whatever they wanted. The problems posed by the computers of the time made the users work hard to come up with more efficient machines.
The batch processing systems mentioned elsewhere in this research paper came as a serious leap forward in the evolution of operating system. Here, the idea of computers handling the amount of work to process came up and the laziness and slow nature of human beings was eliminated.
Magnetic tape was input with punched cards and the jobs to be done were run in order of appearance through the computers .Satellite computers printed the output in a line printer and produced the next input.
Despite the effectiveness that came with the batch processing system, there was the limitation of feeding the magnetic tape, the speed of output and the delay due to the sequential nature of the magnetic tapes. It would actually take several hours, a day or two before one would get the output for their work.
This system of batch processing was followed by the BKS system that was very easy to read even by people who were not so much into computer work and obviously had the same problem of delaying just like the batch processing.