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Is UNIX an acronym? What does it stand for?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

First, there was UNICS for Uniplexed Information Computing System. Then the name changed for UNIX. Same pronunciation.

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From wikipedia: In the 1960s, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, AT&T Bell Labs, and General Electric developed an experimental operating system called Multics for the GE-645 mainframe.[2] Multics was highly innovative, but had many problems.. In the 1970s Brian Kernighan coined the project name Unics as a play on Multics, (Multiplexing Information and Computer Services). Unics could eventually support multiple simultaneous users, and it was renamed Unix. – tmow Jan 14 '11 at 8:08
Multics may have initially been experimental, but it lasted quite a while. I learnt to program in FORTRAN 77 on a Honeywell Multics machine in 1987. – onestop Jan 14 '11 at 11:35
Thanks Marc-François Cochaux-Laberge – Renjith G Jan 17 '11 at 4:24

Despite often being written in all caps, UNIX is not an acronym, therefore it doesn't have a full expansion. The name is a play on Multics which was an acronym (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service). That was an other early operating system around at the time of Unix creation.

Edit: As Marc stated it was originaly called Unics but once it could support multiple users it was renamed Unix which is not an acronym.

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I believe the usual spelling was U<smallcaps>nix</smallcaps>, but of course you can't do that in plain ASCII, nor do it easily in many word processors, so the smallcaps distinction is regularly ignored. – dmckee Jan 15 '11 at 18:51
i didn't get you. – Renjith G Jan 17 '11 at 4:23
I believe the 'x' was something of a misspelling or abbreviation at first. – vonbrand Jan 23 '13 at 14:52

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