What is UNIX?

by Charles Hodge, (M.ASCE), Dir. of Computer Services; Boyle Engrg. Corp., Newport Beach, Calif.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1984, Vol. 54, Issue 10, Pg. 40-41

Document Type: Feature article


UNIX is an operating system that is able to run a variety of machines. While most other operating systems are designed to go with particular software, UNIX can be easily adapted to run any computer, from micro to supercomputer. This means that the applications software written for UNIX can be used on the whole range of machines. UNIX pioneered two ideas: pipes and filters. A pipe is the capability of passing data from one program to another. A filter is any program that alters data passing from one program to another. The UNIX language provides an unusually large number of preprogrammed commands for sorting data, manipulating text or searching for information. These can be used in thousands of combinations, offering the user scope, versatility, and power. Thus, because of pipes, filters and these preprogrammed commands, complicated applications can be performed as a series of independent operations working together.

Subject Headings: Computer software | Pipes | Filters | Equipment and machinery

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