Better 18 years late than never, right?

Today’s history lesson:

  • Bell Labs (AT&T) introduced the Bourne Shell in 1977, authored by Stephen Bourne, closed source.
  • Brian Fox wrote the Bourne Again Shell (aka ‘Bash’) in 1989 as a compatible, free, open source replacement for the original Bourne Shell – he offered it to the world.
  • The Bourne Shell and / or Bourne Again Shell have been the defacto standard for power computing system shells in every operating system (from Mac OS, to Oracle, BSD, FreeBSD, Linux, and Unix) since the early 1980′s.

A little more background:

  • Microsoft Windows began development in 1985.  By the time Windows ’95 was released, the Bourne Again Shell had already been open source for over 5 years.
  • Microsoft has executed tunnel vision to perfection, relying upon their “DOS Prompt” aka “CMD” (command prompt) shell for over 20 years, in all its underpowered, feature-less (comparatively speaking), and aggravating (subjective) glory.

The story, you ask? … with the launch of Windows Vista in 2007, Microsoft released its new Power Shell system command shell.  The implementations / features it borrows from the Bourne Again Shell are frightening to say the least.  Imitation is the greatest form of flattery though, even if it is not the most accurate imitation.

One would argue that the similarities of the new Power Shell features to existing BASH features are simply a matter of evolution – that these features of common-sense computing that would have dawned upon any shell architect.  Well, we agree.  Seriously, we agree, and take no issue with it – rather, we simply wonder why it took Microsoft 18 years to catch up.

Here’s to winning second place boys; Redmond management must be proud.

For a brief, but rich comparison of the two shells, have a look at an article from way-back-when…


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