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Andrew S. Tanenbaum receives ACM Software System Award

20 June 2024
Andrew S. Tanenbaum, professor emeritus of Computer Science at VU Amsterdam, receives the ACM Software System Award for MINIX, which influenced the teaching of Operating Systems principles to multiple generations of students and contributed to the design of widely used operating systems, including Linux.

Tanenbaum created MINIX 1.0 in 1987 to accompany his textbook, Operating Systems: Design and Implementation.  MINIX was a small microkernel-based UNIX operating system for the IBM PC, which was popular at the time. It was roughly 12,000 lines of code, and in addition to the microkernel, included a memory manager, file system and core UNIX utility programs. It became free open-source software in 2000.  

Inspiration for LINUX 
Beyond enabling the success of Tanenbaum’s textbook, the impact of MINIX has been phenomenal. It was an inspiration for LINUX, which has grown into the most successful open-source operating system powering cloud servers, mobile phones and Internet of Things devices.  MINIX was also the basis for the MeikOS operating system for Meikotransputer-based computers and runs inside popular microchips. A later version of MINIX, MINIX 3.0 is intended for resource-limited and embedded computers and for applications requiring high reliability. Beyond the direct impact of MINIX, Tanenbaum’s advocacy for microkernel design has impacted generations of operating system designers.   

The ACM Software System Award is presented to an institution or individual(s) recognized for developing a software system that has had a lasting influence, reflected in contributions to concepts, in commercial acceptance, or both. The Software System Award carries a prize of $35,000. Financial support for the Software System Award is provided by IBM.