The baffling battle over Unix: Why would IBM team up with its arch rivals? Is its software consortium bluffing AT&T?

Unix. After years of learning incompatible sets of commands and rewriting programs for each new computer, scientists thought they saw relief on the way. Computer workstations of all stripes run Unix. Cray-2 supercomputers run Unix. Even Apple Computer has introduced a version of the AT&T Bell Labs-developed system for its Macintosh II. Hosanna?

Not yet. In the middie of May, seven computer companies, including IBM, Digital Equipment, and Hewlett-Packard. caused consternation among computer-using scientists everywhere when they announced that they were forming an international consortium to develop a better, faster, more capable version of Unix. The Open Software Foundation, they called the multicorporate effort. Never fear, they cried; their software would be fully compatible with Unix, while offering features Unix now lacks— a better user interface, for instance, parallel processing,...

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