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How old are operating systems?
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-01 23:09:59

Today, it hit me that iOS is already ten years old. I consider iOS a relatively new and fresh operating system, but can we really say that at ten years old? In order to figure that out, I quickly threw together a little graph to visualise the age of both current and deprecated operating systems to get a better look at the age of operating systems.

It counts operating system age in terms of years from initial public release (excluding beta or preview releases) to the last release (in case of deprecated operating systems) or until today (in case of operating systems still in active development). I've included mainly popular, successful, consumer-oriented operating systems, leaving out more server or embedded oriented operating systems (such as UNIX and QNX), which tend to have vastly different needs and development cycles.

As far as the nomenclature goes, Windows 9x includes everything from Windows 1.0 to Windows ME, and Mac OS covers System 1 through Mac OS 9.2.2. Windows CE is currently called Windows Embedded Compact, but its line also includes Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, and Windows PocketPC.

Red indicates the operating system is no longer being developed, whereas green means it's still under active development. The only question mark in this regard is Windows CE; its latest release is Embedded Compact 2013 in 2013, and while I think it's still in development, I'm not entirely sure.

This graph isn't a scientifically accurate, well-researched, quotable piece of information - it takes many shortcuts and brushes several questions aside for brevity's sake. For instance, looking at the last official release doesn't always make sense, such as with Windows Service Packs or Mac OS X point releases, and I haven't even been entirely consistent with these anyway.

On top of that, the graph doesn't take months or weeks into account, and just counts everything in terms of years. Linux shouldn't technically be included at all (since it's just a kernel), and you can conceivably argue that, for instance, Mac OS X is older than its initial release in the form of 10.0 since it's so heavily based on NEXTSTEP. Amiga OS is also a bit of a stretch, since its development pace is slow and has even died down completely on several occasions. You could maybe possibly argue that BeOS is still in active development in the form of Haiku, but I consider Haiku a reimplementation, and not a continuation.

In any event, I originally wasn't planning on doing anything with this, but I figured I might as well publish it here since it's an interesting overview.

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Oldest
By jonsmirl on 2017-08-01 23:23:20
The granddaddy OSs are Unix and IBM mainframes.
Permalink - Score: 7
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FreeDOS missing
By tidux on 2017-08-01 23:42:14
FreeDOS should definitely be included, since it recently turned 23 and is still under active development.

https://sourceforge.net/p/freedos...
Permalink - Score: 9
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RE: FreeDOS missing
By Morgan on 2017-08-01 23:49:30
Agreed, but going down that road one should also include ReactOS, and if we're including that one (a re-implemented Windows) we should also include Haiku. For that matter, where is OS/2?

This could end up being a huge chart if we really wanted to get pedantic with it.
Permalink - Score: 4
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iOS vs OSX
By Adurbe on 2017-08-02 00:03:22
If NT includes windows phone, then the same logic would follow that iOS is Osx, ie both run off the same kernel and subsystem (Darwin)
Permalink - Score: 2
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ProDOS 8 for Apple II
By DHofmann on 2017-08-02 00:35:16
ProDOS 8 for the Apple II was originally released in January 1983 (34 years ago) and the latest update was last year: http://www.callapple.org/vintage...

Here are some more: https://retrocomputing.stackexcha...
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RE: iOS vs OSX
By PJBonoVox on 2017-08-02 01:03:42
It doesn't matter in either of those cases. Those mobile OSes fit inside the timeframe of their 'grandparent' OS and so wouldn't change the total timeframes.

Edited 2017-08-02 01:04 UTC
Permalink - Score: 2
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Makes no sense
By MacMan on 2017-08-02 01:04:57
How do you get 5 years for BeOS???

BeOS was first released around 1996, we're in 2017, so I count 21 years there. MacOS first came out in 1984, that's 33 years there.

Please explain your methodology Thom
Permalink - Score: 4
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RE: Makes no sense
By bluedodo on 2017-08-02 01:12:25
Was going to ask this myself, well the BeOS part anyway.
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE: Makes no sense
By ianm on 2017-08-02 01:38:48
It counts operating system age in terms of years from initial public release (excluding beta or preview releases) to the last release (in case of deprecated operating systems) or until today (in case of operating systems still in active development).
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE: Makes no sense
By Odwalla on 2017-08-02 01:41:11
MacOS hasn't been under active development since OS X was released in the early 2000s. Seventeen years is correct. The five years for BeOS is also correct. It started in 1991 but wasn't publicly available until 1995. Like MacOS it lasted until about the time OS X shipped. I think R5 released in 2000.

Edited 2017-08-02 01:44 UTC
Permalink - Score: 1

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