GCN at 25 | X marks the spot

Guessing what the dominant technology of the future will be is, at best, a precarious undertaking. In the June 24, 1991, edition, GCN reported that the Defense Department declared the X Window as the standard user interface.

GCN 25th anniversary logo If you wanted a pretty computer screen full of icons ' and not a mere command line to befuddle your users ' you would write your application to run on X Window, DOD decreed.

Originally developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the decade before, X Window, or just X or X11 for short, seemed like a good choice. It was ' and remains ' robust. It ran on almost all operating systems and most vendors supported it.

How would the Pentagon know that a then relatively obscure and somewhat shaky single-platform operating system with a built-in user interface would end up supplying most of the agency's graphical user interface needs by the end of the decade?

The Microsoft Windows operating system had been out for six years by 1991 but didn't start its ascendancy to monopoly-proportioned levels of popularity until the release of Version 3.0 the year earlier.

X hasn't been left on the dunghill of obscurity however ' it serves today as the basis for most Linux desktops, which have been chasing after Microsoft Windows' market share for more than 10 years now.


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