Operating Systems: A Short History Inspires a Long Future

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Few people exist today that do not know, at least on a fundamental level, what an operating system is. Computers have become so widespread that many consider them to be a necessity rather than a luxury. Students often clamour to buy a computer prior to leaving for college, teachers use computer as part of their teaching curriculum at earlier ages, working adults find a need to work on the computer at home when they are not in an office at work--the list of uses for a computer seems endless.


But what is an operating system, what does it do, and where did they come from These issues will be covered by this paper.
The truth is, without an operating system installed all computers would be useless for anything short of being rather large paperweights (Businessline, 2005). The operating system is software installed on the computer that provides the user with a window to work. By accessing the operating system, a user can launch a program and begin working right away (Businessline, 2005). For example, this paper was written using Microsoft Office 2003, a popular software for word processing, on a computer with Microsoft Windows XP installed. Microsoft Windows XP is an example of a "single user multi-tasking" operating system (OS); this operating system allows a single user to open, run, and use several programs simultaneously (Businessline, 2005). However, operating systems were not always as efficient as they are today (Darnay, 2005). Computers have evolved dramatically within just the past ten years.
All operating systems serve the same basic purpose: to control the programs' execution and provide the user with input and output control, data management, resource allocation, and ...
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