Operating systems have been developing through the years. In the following sections we will in brief look at a few of the highlights. Since operating systems have historically been closely tied to the architecture of the computers on which they run, we will look at consecutive generations of computers to see what their operating systems were like. This mapping of operating system generations to computer generations is crude, but it does provide some structure where there would otherwise be none.

The evolution given below is largely in order, but it has been a bumpy ride. Each development did not wait until the previous one nicely finished before getting started. There was a lot of overlap, not to mention many false starts and dead ends. Take this as a guide, not as the last word.

The first true digital computer was designed by the English mathematician Charles Babbage (1792-1871 ). Though Babbage spent most of his life and fortune trying to build his "analytical engine", he never got it working properly because it was purely mechanical, and the technology of his day could not produce the required wheels, gears, and cogs to the high precision that he needed. Unnecessary to say, the analytical engine did not have an operating system.

As an interesting historical aside, Babbage realized that he would need software for his analytical engine, so he hired a young woman named Ada Lovelace, who was the daughter of the famed British poet Lord Byron, as the world's first programmer. The programming language Adaź is named after her.


operating system, software, analytical engine