How Operating Systems Got Their Names

How Operating Systems Got Their Names 1

Have you ever been curious about the origins of the names of the renowned operating systems? Ofcourse, with operating systems like the Apple iOS you know that big cats are the inspiration. However, some of them aren’t quite obvious. No worries, it’s time to for us to educate you on the subject.

Operating Systems, Operating Systems logos, logo Operating Systems


Lacking a GUI, Micro Soft Disk Operating System was adapted from Quick and Dirty Operating System (Q-DOS). Needless to say, DOS itself is a term that is rather loosely used. Putting MS before it is simply an indication of Microsoft’s association. Just so that you know, there are others eg. Apple DOS.

MS-DOS, DOS, Disk operating system

2. Windows 1.0-NT 4.0

May I confess that I was always curious about this one until today? Windows 1.0 carried the name ‘Windows’ due to the fact that users could toggle between several windows in its GUI. The number scheme for Windows continued from 1.0 to 3.1 before Microsoft introduced Windows NT (New Technology).

Windows 1.0, Windows 1.0-NT

3. Windows 95 ME

Windows 3.1 kernel assisted the design of Windows 95, 98 as well as Millennium Edition released in 2000. Windows 2000 followed soon after which was made with business computers in mind and also operated using the NT kernel.

Windows 95

4. Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7

In case you missed it, XP lies within the word ‘eXPerience’. Windows XP began its own experience in 2001 which travelled quite a mile before Vista took over in 2007. Thoughtful as it may sound, Vista was chosen by Microsoft since “At the end of the day…what you’re trying to get to is your own personal Vista.” With Windows 7, Microsoft returned to the numbering scheme.

Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7

5. System 1-7.5

This was the first operating system for Apple’s first Macintosh PC in 1984. Every update would be an additional 0.1 to the last. Lack of multitasking support but enough additional system updates from version 1.0 to 4.0 makes this one sound like a typical Apple OS. After the first 7 variants of System, Apple decided to re-dub the name to Mac OS.

System 1.0

6. Mac OS 8-10

Originally, Mac 8 was going to be known as Mac OS 7.7 but due to some legal circumstances Apple was able to make some changes. Designed on the basis of Apple’s own in-house code Mac OS 9 was the final of the classic Mac operating systems. Mac OS X was a huge leap that was built on the basis of BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution). Each variant that releases is the name of a big cat.

Mac OS 8

7. Linux

Ari Lemmke, runner of the FTP server hosting the original Linux kernel, was the inspiration behind Linux. Ari was adamant that he got a folder by that name against the wishes of Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds who fancied ‘Freax’ better. The name originates from ‘Linus Minix’ that used to be the operating system in existence before Linux was established.


8. Ubuntu

Xhosa and Zulu are two African languages that translate Ubuntu into ‘humanity’. That’s precisely where the name comes from. Each release comes with a version name and a development code name. The numerical element mimics the year and month while the code names comprise animal names. Some derivatives also focus factors such as some location but follow a similar naming scheme as Ubuntu eg. Eubuntu or Kubuntu.


That’s that. Which OS name has left you wondering of its origin? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.