What is

Operating System - Explanation and definition of operating system

What is an operating system?

In the area of computer operating system it is defined as the basic program that controls all hardware and resources available on a computer and the execution of other programs in order to manage, administer and optimize all internal processes that occur and to facilitate use and management of computer by any user with little knowledge of computing.

We can assimilate operating systems like interpreters of the computers that translates user requests into instructions that executes microprocessors and other physical elements of the computer. In most of the electronic devices that uses microprocessors operating systems we can found operating systems which allow you to use easily such devices such as tablets, smartphones, DVD players, computers, televisions, ATMs or even cars.

In the above definition of operating system have indicated that it is a basic program not because of its simplicity but for being the basis for the functioning of all devices that contain a computer, as well as other programs that can be executed, in this respect the programs or applications external must be compatible with the operating system, for example we can not use iPhoto of Mac application installed on computers with Windows or Linux, but fortunately you can always find alternatives to exclusive existing programs for different operating systems.

Operating systems generally comply with the following features:

  • It has a Graphical Interface (GI) that provides the user with the use and management of computer or electronic device, today all operating systems allow just a mouse click can run a program, copy a file or listen to a music album by a graphical environment that facilitate the execution of those tasks without typing a single phrase.

  • Administers and manages any physical or hardware element as the microprocessor itself, the different memories or input and output ports allowing optimize available resources.

  • Administers and manages all the digital information stored in the electronic device, allowing you to create limited access to different users.

  • Recognize any device that is installed allowing its use, for example recognizes routers that give us access to internet, DVD players or USB sticks.

  • Administers and manages the different applications or programs that can be run as Excel, Photoshop, WhatsApp, etc ...

  • Security management by recognizing actions that could damage the information or the operating system itself as well as establishing criteria and hierarchies in which certain users can only run certain applications.

Thanks to the operating systems computers and electronic devices are efficient, comfortable, intuitive and easy to use.

Evolution and history of operating systems

From the first operating system created in the 50s to our present the history of operating systems has been linked to the development and evolution of computer technology, following it shown history and evolution of operating systems throughout of the years.

In the 40s there were no operating systems, reserving the use of the imposing mole of computers that occupied entire rooms to trained for handling and programming people at that time everything was programmed in machine language, that is the way to communicate with the computer it was by zeros and ones.

In the 50s the first operating systems that began to manage the programs and reports that occupied such applications, the first operating system was created in 1956 by General Motors and North American Aviation. At that time operating systems were designed exclusively for the computer on which would be hosted.

During the decade of the 60 multiple operating systems was developed including new processing techniques with the particularity that were all monouser and could only run a single program until Unix appears in 1969 through the efforts of scientists Ken Thomson and Dennis Ritchie, the first portable, installable, multitasking and multiuser operating system.

In the 70s thanks to technological advances in the field of electronics chip was developed allowing the manufacture of the first computers at a low cost compared to their predecessors, it requires design and program operating systems that are installable on any computer and to facilitate interaction with many users increasingly approached and acquired these new electronic devices. In 1973 the Xerox Alto appears first computer whose operating system includes a graphical interface.

In the 80 personal computers are consolidated and they appear operating systems like Windows or MacOS with graphical interfaces that came and provided millions of users handling computers.

In the 90s operating systems evolve with computer revolutions that occurred such as the introduction of Internet in homes consolidating network operating systems. Linux appears in 1990 as a free and open PC operating system based on Unix, in 1992 is launched Solaris, in 1995 Windows launches its Windows 95 operating system redesign all its graphical interface and introducing the Start button and taskbar, its commercial success reached unthinkable heights.

With the new century operating systems are oriented towards a better user experience giving priority functions such as security, stability and access to social networks being three operating systems prevailing on most personal computers, Windows, MacOS and Ubuntu , technological advances in telephony sector forced the development of operating systems designed for smartphones such as Symbian, RIM, Android or iOS.

The future is to unify and design a comprehensive operating system which can control any electronic device either an appliance, a phone or a computer. On the other hand Internet is closely linked with the operating system of the future and that all software will be hosted in the cloud, advances in artificial intelligence will allow our operating system of the future acquire capacity for understanding and reasoning becoming the perfect interpreter between man and machines.

Types and classification of operating systems.

At present there are a wide range of operating systems available on the market, can group using any of the following concepts:

By type of electronic device that handles:

  • Mainframes - are those that are designed and optimized for the management and administration of large and powerful central computers dedicated to processing huge amounts of data such as banking, government databases, databases of research centers or private companies. z / OS IBM zSeries Linux or z / TPF are examples of operating systems used in mainframes.

  • Servers - Operating Systems are dedicated to manage and administer servers where web pages, documents or applications are hosted accessible from the Internet among other functions. Sun Solaris, Windows Server or Novell are examples among others.

  • Personal computers - are the most common and popular operating systems, are designed for use in desktop PCs and laptops. Windows, MacOS and Linux are the most used.

  • Mobile devices - are operating systems designed and targeted for use on mobile phones, smartphones and tablets, focusing on aspects such as internet connectivity, tactile marking or running applications, Android, iOS and Windows Phone are examples of this type.

  • Embedded systems - are those that come installed with an electronic device that performs a low fixed number of tasks such as ATMs, GPS navigation systems, game consoles, photocopiers or even cars and space probes. VxWorks, ThreadX and Windows embedded are examples among others.

By the number of users who can use it:

  • Single-user - A single user uses all the hardware and software of a computer, Windows and MacOS are the most used.

  • Multiusers - Multiple users can simultaneously use the hardware and software available on one central computer which is accessed by using external peripherals such as keyboards and monitors. As examples we can mention Linux, Unix or Windows Server

  • Networking - Multiple users can share both hardware and software, in this configuration each user has a computer networked with other computers of other users. Novell or Apple Talk are examples among others.

By the number of tasks you can perform:

  • Single-tasking - they are those that are designed to run a single task at a time such as MS-DOS.

  • Multitasking - Unlike the single-tasking these can run multiple tasks at once, such as Mac OS or Windows phone.

Now that you know what is an operating system, Did you know that the first robot used to explore the surface of Mars uses the same operating system as a combat helicopter?


what is an operating system