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Xenix is a discontinued version of the
Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast t ...

Unix
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
for various
microcomputer A microcomputer is a small, relatively inexpensive computer with a microprocessor as its central processing unit (CPU). It includes a microprocessor, Computer memory, memory and minimal input/output (I/O) circuitry mounted on a single printed ci ...
platforms, licensed by
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multination ...

Microsoft
from
AT&T Corporation AT&T Corporation, originally the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, is the subsidiary of AT&T Inc. that provides voice, video, data, and Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of i ...
in the late 1970s. The
Santa Cruz Operation The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc. (usually known as SCO, pronounced either as individual letters or as a word) was an American software company, based in Santa Cruz, California, that was best known for selling three Unix operating system variants fo ...
(SCO) later acquired exclusive rights to the software, and eventually replaced it with SCO UNIX (now known as
SCO OpenServer box set Xinuos OpenServer, previously SCO UNIX and SCO Open Desktop (SCO ODT), is a closed source computer operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, computer software, software resources, and ...
). In the mid-to-late 1980s, Xenix was the most common Unix variant, measured according to the number of machines on which it was installed. Microsoft chairman
Bill Gates William Henry Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate A business magnate is someone who has achieved great success and enormous wealth through the ownership of multiple lines of enterprise. The term characterist ...
said at Unix Expo in 1996 that, for a long time, Microsoft had the highest-volume AT&T Unix license.


History

Bell Labs Nokia Bell Labs (formerly named Bell Labs Innovations (1996–2007), AT&T Bell Laboratories (1984–1996) and Bell Telephone Laboratories (1925–1984)) is an American industrial research and scientific development company A company, abbrev ...
, the developer of UNIX, was part of the regulated
Bell System The Bell System was the system of companies, led by the Bell Telephone Company The Bell Telephone Company, a common law joint stock company, was organized in Boston, Massachusetts on July 9, 1877, by Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law Ga ...
and could not sell UNIX directly to most end users (academic and research institutions excepted); it could, however, license it to software vendors who would then resell it to end users (or their own resellers), combined with their own added features. Microsoft, which expected that UNIX would be its operating system of the future when personal computers became powerful enough, purchased a license for
Version 7 UNIX Seventh Edition Unix, also called Version 7 Unix, Version 7 or just V7, was an important early release of the Unix operating system. V7, released in 1979, was the last Bell Laboratories release to see widespread distribution before the commercial ...
from AT&T in 1978, and announced on August 25, 1980, that it would make it available for the
16-bit 16-bit microcomputer A microcomputer is a small, relatively inexpensive computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform gener ...
microcomputer market. Because Microsoft was not able to license the "UNIX" name itself, the company gave it an original name. Microsoft called XENIX "a universal operating environment". It did not sell XENIX directly to end users, but licensed the software to OEMs such as IBM, Intel, Management Systems Development, Tandy, Altos, SCO, and Siemens (
SINIX Sinix may refer to: * SINIX SINIX is a discontinued variant of the Unix operating system from Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme. SINIX supersedes SIRM OS and Pyramid Technology's DC/OSx. Following X/Open's acceptance that its requirements for the ...
) which then
ported In , porting is the process of adapting for the purpose of achieving some form of execution in a that is different from the one that a given program (meant for such execution) was originally designed for (e.g., different , operating system, or ...
it to their own proprietary
computer architecture In computer engineering, computer architecture is a set of rules and methods that describe the functionality, organization, and implementation of computer systems. The architecture of a system refers to its structure in terms of separately specifi ...
s. In 1981, Microsoft said the first version of XENIX was "very close to the original UNIX version 7 source" on the
PDP-11 The PDP-11 is a series of 16-bit 16-bit microcomputers are computers in which 16-bit microprocessors were the norm. A 16-bit register can store 216 different values. The range (computer programming), range of integer values that can be stored i ...
, and later versions were to incorporate its own fixes and improvements. The company stated that it intended to port the operating system to the
Zilog Z8000 The Z8000 ("''zee-'' or ''zed-eight-thousand''") is a 16-bit 16-bit microcomputers are computers in which 16-bit microprocessors were the norm. A 16-bit register can store 216 different values. The range (computer programming), range of intege ...
series, Digital
LSI-11 The PDP-11 is a series of 16-bit 16-bit microcomputers are computers in which 16-bit microprocessors were the norm. A 16-bit register can store 216 different values. The range (computer programming), range of integer values that can be stored i ...
,
Intel 8086 The 8086 (also called iAPX 86) is a chip designed by between early 1976 and June 8, 1978, when it was released. The , released July 1, 1979, is a slightly modified chip with an external 8-bit (allowing the use of cheaper and fewer supporting ...
and
80286 The Intel Intel Corporation is an American and headquartered in , . It is the world's largest manufacturer by revenue, and is the developer of the series of s, the processors found in most personal computers (PCs). , Intel ranked No. ...
,
Motorola 68000 The Motorola 68000 (sometimes shortened to Motorola 68k or m68k and usually pronounced "sixty-eight-thousand") is a 16/32-bit complex instruction set computer A complex instruction set computer (CISC ) is a computer in which single instructio ...
, and possibly "numerous other processors", and provide Microsoft's "full line of system software products", including
BASIC BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming language In computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the ar ...
and other languages. The first port was for the Z8001 16-bit processor: the first customer ship was January 1981 for Central Data Corporation of Illinois, followed in March 1981 by Paradyne Corporation's Z8001 product. The first 8086 port was for the
Altos Computer Systems Altos Computer Systems was founded in 1977 by David G. Jackson and Roger William Vass Sr. It focused on small multi-user computers, starting with multi-user derivatives of CP/M CP/M, originally standing for Control Program/Monitor and later ...
' non-PC-compatible 8600-series computers (first customer ship date Q1 1982).The Altos 8086 machines had a custom MMU, which used 4K pages. Intel sold complete computers with XENIX under their Intel
System 86 A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one-way causal e ...
brand (with specific models such as 86/330 or 86/380X); they also offered the individual boards that made these computers under their
iSBC A single-board computer (SBC) is a complete computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as C ...
brand. This included processor boards like iSBC 86/12 and also MMU boards such as the iSBC 309. The first Intel XENIX systems shipped in July 1982.Intel also offered their own
iRMX iRMX is a real-time operating systemA real-time operating system (RTOS) is an operating system (OS) intended to serve real-time computing, real-time applications that process data as it comes in, typically without Data buffer, buffer delays. Proce ...
operating system as an alternative for these.
Tandy more than doubled the XENIX installed base when it made TRS-XENIX the default operating system for its
TRS-80 Model 16 The TRS-80 Model II is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, pro ...
68000-based computer in early 1983, and was the largest UNIX vendor in 1984.
Seattle Computer Products Seattle Computer Products (SCP) was a Tukwila, Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washingt ...
also made (PC-incompatible) 8086 computers bundled with XENIX, like their Gazelle II, which used the
S-100 bus The S-100 bus or Altair bus, IEEE 696-1983 ''(withdrawn)'', is an early computer bus In computer architecture In computer engineering, computer architecture is a set of rules and methods that describe the functionality, organization, and ...
and was available in late 1983 or early 1984. There was also a port for IBM System 9000. SCO had initially worked on its own PDP-11 port of V7, called Dynix,Unrelated to the later
Dynix DYNIX (''DYNamic UnIX'') was a Unix-like operating system developed by Sequent Computer Systems, based on 4.2BSDThe History of the Berkeley Software Distribution begins in the 1970s. 1BSD (PDP-11) The earliest distributions of Unix from Bell La ...
from
Sequent Computer Systems Sequent Computer Systems was a computer company that designed and manufactured multiprocessing Multiprocessing is the use of two or more central processing units A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor, main proces ...
but then struck an agreement with Microsoft for joint development and technology exchange on XENIX in 1982. Microsoft and SCO then further engaged
Human Computing Resources Corporation Human Computing Resources Corporation, later HCR Corporation, was a Canadian software company A software company is a company whose primary products are various forms of software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), ...
(HCR) in Canada, and a software products group within
Logica plc Logica plc was a Multinational corporation, multinational information technology, IT and Management consulting, management consultancy company headquartered in London and later Reading, Berkshire, Reading, United Kingdom. Founded in 1969, the com ...
in the United Kingdom, as part of making further improvements to XENIX and porting XENIX to other platforms. In doing so, Microsoft gave HCR and Logica the rights to do XENIX ports and to license XENIX binary distributions in those territories. See around 10:45 mark of interview video. In 1984, a port to the 68000-based
Apple Lisa Lisa is a desktop computer A desktop computer is a personal computer File:Crystal Project computer.png, upright=0.9, An artist's depiction of a 2000s-era desktop-style personal computer, which includes a metal case with the computing co ...

Apple Lisa
2 was jointly developed by SCO and Microsoft and it was the first
shrink-wrapped Shrink wrap, also shrink film, is a material made up of polymer plastic film. When heat is applied, it shrinks tightly over whatever it is covering. Heat can be applied with a handheld heat gun (electric or gas), or the product and film can pass t ...
binary product sold by SCO. The
Multiplan Multiplan was an early spreadsheet A spreadsheet is a computer application for organization, analysis, and storage of data in tabular form. Spreadsheets were developed as computerized analogs of paper accounting worksheets. The program operate ...

Multiplan
spreadsheet was released for it. In its 1983 OEM directory, Microsoft said the difficulty in porting to the various 8086 and Z8000-based machines had been the lack of a standardized
memory management unit A memory management unit (MMU), sometimes called paged memory management unit (PMMU), is a computer hardware Computer hardware includes the physical parts of a computer, such as the computer case, case, central processing unit (CPU), Compute ...
and protection facilities. Hardware manufacturers compensated by designing their own hardware, but the ensuing complexity made it "extremely difficult if not impossible for the very small manufacturer to develop a computer capable of supporting a system such as XENIX from scratch," and "the XENIX kernel must be custom-tailored to each new hardware environment."Microsoft XENIX Operating System OEM Directory, May 1, 1983, Part No. OEM0091B
/ref> A generally available port to the ''unmapped'' was done by The Santa Cruz Operation around 1983. SCO XENIX for the PC XT shipped sometime in 1984 and contained some enhancement from
4.2BSD The History of the Berkeley Software Distribution begins in the 1970s. 1BSD (PDP-11) The earliest distributions of Unix from Bell Labs Nokia Bell Labs (formerly named Bell Labs Innovations (1996–2007), AT&T Bell Laboratories (1984–1996) a ...
; it also supported the Micnet local area networking. The later 286 version of XENIX leveraged the integrated MMU present on this chip, by running in 286 protected mode. The 286 XENIX was accompanied by new hardware from XENIX OEMs. For example, the Sperry PC/IT, an
IBM PC AT The IBM Personal Computer/AT (model 5170, abbreviated as IBM AT or PC/AT) was released in 1984 as the fourth model in the IBM Personal Computer The IBM Personal Computer (model 5150, commonly known as the IBM PC) is the first computer rele ...
clone, was advertised as capable of supporting eight simultaneous
dumb terminal A computer terminal is an electronic or electromechanical computer hardware, hardware device that can be used for entering data into, and transcribing data from, a computer or a computing system. The Teleprinter, teletype was an example of an e ...
users under this version. While XENIX 2.0 was still based on Version 7 UNIX, version 3.0 was upgraded to a
UNIX System III UNIX System III (or System 3) is a discontinued version of the Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), ...
code base, a 1984 Intel manual for XENIX 286 noted that the XENIX kernel had about 10,000 lines at this time. It was followed by a System V R2 codebase in XENIX 5.0 (a.k.a. XENIX System V). "Microsoft hopes that XENIX will become the preferred choice for software production and exchange", the company stated in 1981. Microsoft referred to its own
MS-DOS MS-DOS ( ; acronym for Microsoft Disk Operating System, also known as Microsoft DOS) is an operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Example ...
as its "single-user, single-tasking operating system", and advised customers that wanted
multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of instructions Instruction or instructions may refer to: Computing * Instruction, one operation of a processor within a computer architecture instruction set * Computer progr ...
or multitasking support to buy XENIX. It planned to over time improve MS-DOS so it would be almost indistinguishable from single-user XENIX, or XEDOS, which would also run on the 68000, Z8000, and LSI-11; they would be upwardly compatible with XENIX, which ''
BYTE The byte is a unit of digital information that most commonly consists of eight bit The bit is a basic unit of information in computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It ...
'' in 1983 described as "the multi-user MS-DOS of the future". Microsoft's Chris Larson described MS-DOS 2.0's XENIX compatibility as "the second most important feature". His company advertised DOS and XENIX together, listing the shared features of its "single-user OS" and "the multi-user, multi-tasking, UNIX-derived operating system", and promising easy porting between them. AT&T started selling System V, however, after the
breakup of the Bell System The breakup of the Bell System was mandated on January 8, 1982, by an agreed consent decree A consent decree is an agreement or settlement that resolves a dispute between two parties without Admission (law), admission of guilt (in a criminal c ...
. Microsoft, believing that it could not compete with UNIX's developer, decided to abandon XENIX. The decision was not immediately transparent, which led to the term
vaporware In the computer industry, vaporware (or vapourware) is a product, typically computer Computer hardware, hardware or software, that is announced to the general public but is late or never actually manufactured nor officially cancelled. Use of t ...
. It agreed with
IBM International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York, with operations in over 170 countries. The company began in 1911, founded in Endicott, New York, as the C ...
to develop
OS/2 OS/2 (Operating System/2) is a series of computer operating systems, initially created by Microsoft and IBM under the leadership of IBM software designer Ed Iacobucci. As a result of a feud between the two companies over how to position OS/2 re ...
, and the XENIX team (together with the best MS-DOS developers) was assigned to that project. In 1987, Microsoft transferred ownership of XENIX to SCO in an agreement that left Microsoft owning slightly less than 20% of SCO (this amount prevented both companies from having to disclose the exact amount in the event of an SCO IPO). And SCO would acquire both of the other companies that had XENIX rights, Logica's software products group in 1986 and HCR in 1990. When Microsoft eventually lost interest in OS/2 as well, the company based its further high-end strategy on
Windows NT Windows NT is a proprietary {{Short pages monitor