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Evolution of Operating System

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An operating system is a type of software that acts as an interface between the user and the hardware. It is responsible to handle various critical functions of the computer or any other machine. Various tasks that are handled by OS are file management, task management, garbage management, memory management, process management, disk management, I/O management, peripherals management, etc. 

Evolution of Operating Systems

Operating Systems have evolved in past years. It went through several changes before getting its original form. These changes in the operating system are known as the evolution of operating systems.OS improve itself with the invention of new technology. Basically , OS added the feature of new technology and making itself more powerful. Let us see the evolution of operating system year-wise in detail:

No OS – (0s to 1940s) –

As we know that before 1940s, there was no use of OS . Earlier, people are lacking OS in their computer system so they had to manually type instructions for each tasks in machine language(0-1 based language) . And at that time , it was very hard for users to implement even a simple task. And it was very time consuming and also not user-friendly . Because not everyone had that much level of understanding to understand the maching language and it required a deep understanding.

Batch Processing Systems -(1940s to 1950s):

With the growth of time, batch processing system came into the market .Now Users had facility to write their programs on punch cards and load it to the computer operator. And then operator make different batches of similar types of jobs and then serve the different batch(group of jobs) one by one to the CPU .CPU first executes jobs of one batch and them jump to the jobs of other batch in a sequence manner.

Multiprogramming Systems -(1950s to 1960s) :

Multiprogramming was the first operating system where actual revolution began.It provide user facility to load the multiple program into the memory and provide a specific portion of memory to each program. When one program is waiting for any I/O operations (which take much time) at that time the OS give permission to CPU to switch from previous program to other program(which is first in ready queue) for continuos execution of program with interrupt.

Time-Sharing Systems -(1960s to 1970s)

Time-sharing systems is extended version of multiprogramming system. Here one extra feature was added to avoid the use of CPU for long time by any single program and give access of CPU to every program after a certain interval of time. Basically OS swithces from one program to another program after a certain interval of time so that every program can get access of CPU and complete their work.

Introduction of GUI -(1970s to 1980s)

With the growth of time, Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) came. First time OS became more user-friendly and changed the way of people to interact with computer. GUI provides computer system visual elements which made user’s interaction with computer more comfortable and user-friendly. User can just click on visual elements rather than typing commands. Here are some feature of GUI in Microsoft’s windows icons, menus and windows.

Networked Systems – (1980s to 1990s)

At 1980s,the craze of computer networks at it’s peak .A special type of Operating Systems needed to manage the network communication . The OS like Novell NetWare and Windows NT were developed to manage network communication which provide users facility to work in collaborative environment and made file sharing and remote access very easy.

Mobile Operating Systems – (Late 1990s to Early 2000s)

Invention of smartphones create a big revolution in software industry, To handle the operation of smartphones , a special type of operating systems were developed. Some of them are : iOS and Android etc. These operating systems were optimized with the time and became more powerful.

AI Integration – (2010s to ongoing)

With the growth of time, Artificial intelligence came into picture.Operating system integrates features of AI technology like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa and became more powerful and efficient in many way. These AI features with operating system create a entire new feature like voice commands, predictive text, and personalized recommendations.

Note: The above mentioned OS basically tells how the OS evolved with the time by adding new features but it does’nt mean that only new generation OS are in use and previously OS system are not in use, according to the need, all these OS are still used in software industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1: How has the development of computer hardware been impacted by the evolution of operating systems?


The design and advancement of computer hardware have been significantly influenced by the development of operating systems. By time by time hardware producers added new features and capabilities to their products as operating systems improved in order to better support the functionality offered by the operating systems after a long variation of time. Like for instance, basically the development of memory management units (MMUs) in hardware to handle memory addressing and protection followed the introduction of virtual memory in operating systems. Similarly, the demand for operating system multitasking and multiprocessing support prompted the creation of more potent and effective processors and other hardware components.

Q.2: How has the development of distributed systems impacted how operating systems have changed over time?


Operating systems have been significantly impacted by the rise of distributed systems, such as client-server architectures and cloud computing. To support network communication, distributed file systems, and resource sharing across multiple machines, operating systems had to develop. Distributed operating systems also developed to offer scalability, fault tolerance, and coordination in distributed environments. These modifications improved the ability to manage resources across interconnected systems by advancing networking protocols, remote procedure calls, and distributed file systems.

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Last Updated : 27 Aug, 2023
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