ComputerWorld: Technology Flashback — 1991: Linus Launches Linux

“Sometimes, the most remarkable events in life are
unintentional. Such is the case with Linux, which started out as a
student’s hobby but has quietly become in the past eight years one
of the world’s fastest-growing operating systems…”

“But the story of Linux really begins in June 1979 at the Usenix
meeting in Toronto, according to Peter Salus, editorial director at
Specialized Systems Consultants Inc. in Seattle, which publishes
Linux Journal. “The lawyer from AT&T Corp. got up and
announced the new pricing structure for AT&T Unix System V,”
Salus says. “The discounted educational fee was $7,500, and the
full commercial fee was $40,000 per CPU. You can imagine what the
feeling among the guys there was.

“One of those guys was Andrew Tanenbaum, a professor at a
university in Amsterdam. “He couldn’t ask a free university to pay
that kind of money, but he wanted his students to work with Unix,”
Salus says. So Tanenbaum wrote Minix, a small version of Unix that
would run on a minimally configured desktop system.”