Is UNIX an acronym? What does it stand for?


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
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    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

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 --- ex-moderator kitten Jan 15 '11 at 18:51
  • I believe the 'x' was something of a misspelling or abbreviation at first. – vonbrand Jan 23 '13 at 14:52
  • Unix, originally Unics.
  • Peter Gabriel Neumann named it UNICS (UNiplexed Infomation and Computing Service) as a pun on the multi-user MULTICS(MULTiplexed Information and Computing Service) system.
  • Peter Gabriel Neumann (born 1932) is a computer-science researcher who worked on the Multics operating system in the 1960s.
  • Multics was a mainframe time-sharing operating system that was developed in the 1963-1969 period through the collaboration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), General Electric (GE), and Bell Labs.
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