History of X Window System
The X Window System is the graphical interface used by UNIX and Linux operating systems. It is a complex piece of software that was created through a long period. Therefore, it is useful to understand its history.
X was created as a research project in the MIT on early 80s. The laboratory responsible for its creation was the MIT X Consortium, a group financed by the industry to develop graphical technologies for UNIX systems.
The lead programmer responsible for the development of X was Robert Schiefler. He stayed as the lead of MIT X Consortium from 1984 to 1996.
The X Window System was created with the goal of being modular, using a client/server architecture. The main reason is that UNIX workstations were being sold at the time as part of client/server systems. It was common in the industry to have "dumb" terminals attached to a more powerful mini computer.
X design incorporated the idea of X terminals attached to an X server. The X server was capable of communicating with other clients through the X protocol, a lower level protocol that is used to transfer graphical information.
The client server nature of X facilitated its adoption by the industry. Even when Windows became the dominant operating system for clients, it was easy to create X programs that would display the graphical output in Windows, while still running remotely on a UNIX machine.
The last release of the X System from the X consortium was X11 release 6. That is why X11 is still commonly used as a synonym for X Window. Since that, the development of X is being handled by the X.org foundation, which congregates people and companies interested in further development of X. The software released by X.org is open source, and it is therefore free to be used on Linux as well as other systems.
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