Apple’s Operating System Guru Goes Back to His Roots

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That iPad in your hand? It feels like the most modern of computers. But like the iPhone and the Macintosh, the Apple tablet revolves around a core piece of software that can trace its roots all the way back to the early 1970s. It was built atop UNIX, the operating system originally created over 30 years ago by researchers at AT&T’s Bell Labs.

UNIX is the same software that gave rise to Linux, the open source OS that drives Google Android phones and underpins so much of the modern internet. Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs once tried to hire Linus Torvalds, the irrepressible Finnish coder who created Linux and gave the thing its name.

But Torvalds said “No,” and not long after that, Apple hired Jordan Hubbard, the creator of FreeBSD, a lesser known, but still thriving, open source operating system based on UNIX. It was a better fit: Mac OS X shares conceptual roots with Linux, but it shares honest-to-goodness code with FreeBSD.

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