Computer Operating System: Top 12 OS Families

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Written By Ishika Chauhan

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Any computer that is to function properly must have a computer operating system. There are many devices that you can use, including a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone.

To run each of these devices and to control their overall operation, an "Operating System" or OS is required. There are many OS systems that you can choose from. These OS systems are called "OS Families".

Your software and apps are run on top of the operating system. Without an OS, your computer would be useless. Many computer operating systems (or OS families) are available around the globe.

Here are some details about the most popular computer operating system families currently in use.

1. DOS: Disk Operating System

DOS was the first computer operating system. It was used by early computing. Bill Gates extended it to PC-DOS when he asked IBM to create an operating system for its personal computers. This was later extended to MS-DOS by Gates for use only by Microsoft.

The term "disk operating system" refers to disks that are essential to computers running at the time. These disks could be hard disks or floppies. Floppies were used for software loading before the advent of large internal memory PCs.

IBM developed the Winchester drive. It featured hard drives with 30 MB fixed storage and 30MB removable storage. IBM called them Winchesters in honor of the Winchester 30/30 rifle's 0.38-inch bullet diameter and 30 grains of powder.

DOS can be operated using text commands via a command prompt' [C:>]. It was the underlying OS of Microsoft Windows from Windows 98 to Windows ME. It is still in use today.

2. Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows may be the most widely-used and well-known computer operating system today. It was created by Bill Gates' Microsoft Corporation.

It can be used on many platforms, including PCs and Personal Computers. It is a modernized version of WIMP (Windows Icons, Menus, and Pointer), a term that was first used by Merzouga Williams in 1980.

Microsoft adopted the WIMP OS, which is the most popular PC OS in the world. Modern versions do not use MS-DOS. However, the DOS command prompt can still be used if needed.

Microsoft Windows has a GUI (Graphical User Interface), which allows for multitasking and cooperation. You can run multiple programs (or apps) in one window. Icons represent clickable links to specific applications. Windows are often pre-installed on many PCs.

3. Mac OS for Macintosh Machines

Mac OS was created to run the Apple Macintosh system. Apple computers were first introduced in 1984. Mac OS was the first computer to use a GUI.

This was what likely prompted Microsoft's development of Windows. The first versions of this operating system were simply known as "System" and "Finder". Version 7.5.1 was the first to use the Mac OS logo. Version 7.6 was also the first Mac OS version to be officially called.

Mac OS X was made public in 2001 with the release of Mac OS 10. OS X is more than an update to Mac OS. It uses a different architecture.

This UNIX OS was created after Apple bought NeXT Computer, which used the NeXTSTEP operating system. This is one example of how different operating systems can be combined. Mac OS X was then renamed to OS X, which is used to run Apple Mac computers.


These three operating systems have been widely used for personal computers, including laptops and PCs. UNIX is slightly more complicated and was initially developed by Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, and other developers at the Bell Labs research center.

The original was called MULTICS - Multiplexed Information and Computing System. This OS was too complicated, so UNICS was created. Later, it was spelled UNIX - a more sexy spelling in the IT industry!

It's a multiuser, multitasking operating system that doesn't depend on the hardware. UNIX can be used on both Mac OS X and Windows computers. It is the most widely used server operating system on the internet. It is designed to support multi-user operations (servers being a prime example). Linux is the next clone of UNIX.

5. Linux Operating System

Linux, as mentioned above, was derived from UNIX - derived and released by Swede Linus Torvalds in 1991. Software that is free and open-source collaboration collaboration.

This was an interesting development when it first appeared. Linux It is widely used by developers, who can, under the open source system, make modifications to the software to suit their needs.

It can be used on any type of computer, from mainframes to mobile devices. Android has been developed specifically on top Linux kernels. Although it is stable, it will not run any software that was specifically written for Linux. It's a general-purpose operating system that can run software written specifically for Linux.

6. OS/2: Operating System 2

OS/2 was initially developed by the IBM/Microsoft collaboration. However, once it was developed, IBM became the sole owner of it and managed its marketing. OS/2 is an acronym for IBM's Personal Computer system, also known as Personal System/2 or PS/2. So OS/2 ran PS/2, so to speak.

Original release at the end of 1987. The last OS/2 version was released in 2001. OS/2, as expected from Microsoft and IBM, is compatible with Microsoft Windows as well as most versions of DOS.

It can also run all programs designed for these operating systems OS/2 programs will not work on Windows and DOS machines. OS/2 is very similar in function to UNIX.

7. Oracle Solaris

Solaris, a UNIX-based computer operating systems system that Sun Microsystems developed, was acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2010.

It was renamed Oracle Solaris and now supports multiprocessing as well as multithreading. Oracle released Solaris 11.2 in beta form in 2014. This was to promote cloud computing. It is a cloud platform that supports virtualization and application-driven software-defined networking (SDN).

Solaris runs on Oracle SPARC servers. These SPARC servers are set to operate at least until 2019 but may be unable to continue beyond that timeframe if Oracle's revenue slides. Solaris is a great OS for cloud-based software developers.

8. Virtual Memory System: Open VMS

The VMS virtual memory system was created for workstations and microcomputers. It is a multi-tasking OS that can be used by multiple users.

It was first launched in 1979 with the VAX Minicomputer. Open VMS is the general name for it. It is currently used by Amazon and the Deutsche Borse as well as the Australian Stock Exchange. Its ability to manage multi-users, multi-processing operations and other factors are why this is so common.

It can handle batch and transaction processing as well as time sharing. This makes it an ideal operating platform for Amazon.

This OS can be distributed across multiple machines so that individual machine failures, which could cause major disruption to individual data-processing units may have less impact on VMS-equipped corporate computers.

It is believed that even though it is over 30 years old, it will still be useful for clients. It uses virtual memory and was originally used on the VAX computer. Some models are still in use.

9. MVS: Multiple Virtual Storage

The MVS Multiple Virtual Storage operating software was used on older IBM mainframe computers. This OS was developed in 1974 and is slowly being replaced by a newer operating system.

Many extensions have been made to the MVS operating systems, including MVS/SE [System extension], MVS/XA ("Extended Architecture") to MVS/ESA ("Enterprise Systems Architecture") and some variations in between. The MVS operating system was originally developed by ESA to OS/390, then to z/OS with 64-bit support.

The MVS operating system was developed to support the UNIX-like POSIX Portable Operating System Interface standard. C language programming functions that conform to the POSIX standard are easily portable to any computer running the appropriate MVS operating system.

10. RTOS: Real-Time Operating Systems

When data input is urgent, real-time computer operating system can be used. RTOS allows for fast response to data input, which can be used to quickly affect data that has been added. An RTOS system is often used by embedded microprocessors.

Jitter is a critical element in an RTOS's effectiveness. It refers to the consistency of an RTOS's ability to accept and complete an application's task.

There are two types of jitter: Soft and hard real-time operating systems have lower jitter. The jitter is more critical than the overall throughput when designing a real-time operating system.

A soft real-time operating system is one that can meet deadlines. However, it is not able to meet them all the time. Unavoidable consequences were then known as a hard real-time OS. An RTOS is important when data inputs are urgent.

These are some examples: A RTOS for the deployment of airbags must be real-time and hard, as a delay could lead to catastrophic consequences. RTOSs for video streaming to a PC can be soft on the other hand. The occasional loss of data isn't necessarily catastrophic.

11. A/UX: Apple UNIX

A/UX, an Apple-based POSIX-compatible operating system, was released in 1988. Although it was a UNIX-based operating system, it was implemented using the Apple Mac's look and feel.

The UNIX market was very crowded at that time. Every man and dog tried to use UNIX. Apple Macs couldn't compete with higher-end computers in this market because of their high-end design features.

It did however have some success in corporate sales and with the U.S. Government. Because POSIX compliance was an important factor, the Mac OS couldn't meet it - A/UX could. Although it is not a popular operating system, it is worth mentioning.

12. MAE: Macintosh Application Environment

Apple introduced MAE in 1994. It was designed to allow Apple Macintosh applications to run on UNIX OS-based computer workstations.

Before this development, UNIX workstations couldn't use Macintosh programs. MAE used the X Window to emulate the Macintosh Finder GUI. It could then run certain Apple software.

MSE 3.0 was the final version of this application environment. It was compatible with Macintosh System 7.5.3, which was before the Macintosh Mac OS was officially launched. MAE was used in the Sun Microsystems SPARC station and HP systems. However, it was retired in May 1998.

Conclusion - Computer Operating System

These are the most popular computer operating systems (OS Systems). Others may have contributed to the development of modern computing, but they are unlikely to be as important. There are also operating systems that can be used for smartphones and mobile devices.

These include the Windows mobile system, Android, and iOS. We are however focusing here on computers, mainframes, laptops, and desktops. One day, mobile systems might be the subject of a separate article.

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