Document Type



Next year, the one of the world’s first Operating Systems (OS) UNIX will celebrate its 50th birthday. This relic of the past is objectively one of the most important creations that has ever influenced the field of Computer Science. However, mysteries of this artifact were discovered in 1995. Two engineers, Paul Vixie and Keith Bostic, dug deep enough to find several DEC tapes “under the floor of the computer room [at Bell Labs]” (UNIX Past) which held several original binary files for UNIX. With much help from several individuals, these two engineers were able to reverse engineer the binary tapes they found and 15 years later, put up a repository for this ancient system on GitHub. There it has stayed, waiting for someone to use it like it was meant to be used, on a DEC PDP 11/20, the computer UNIX v1 was initially written for. Currently, the PDP 11/20 can send and receive data via a homemade serial emulator we have written in Java, and the PDP 11/20 has been loaded with a binary file for the BASIC programming language. Once the entry point for BASIC can be determined, we will start to write code to emulate paper tape readers to assist in loading UNIX v1 into the PDP 11/20's memory. In the end, we hope to have a fully functional system running the one of the world’s first Operating Systems.


Computer Science

Thesis Comittee

Michael Black (Thesis Advisor)

John Santore

Haleh Khojasteh

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.