UNIX/32V was an early version of the Unix operating system from Bell Laboratories, released in June 1979. 32V was a direct port of the Seventh Edition Unix to the DEC VAX architecture.

DeveloperAT&T Bell Laboratories
Written inC
OS familyUnix (Seventh Edition Unix)
Working stateDiscontinued
Source modelOpen source, previously closed source
Initial releaseJune 1979; 42 years ago (1979-06)
Available inEnglish
user interface
Command-line interface (Bourne shell)
LicenseBSD 4-Clause License
Preceded byVersion 7 Unix


Version 7 Unix for the VAX 11/780, running in the SIMH VAX 11/780 simulator displayed on Cool Retro Term

Before 32V, Unix had primarily run on DEC PDP-11 computers. The Bell Labs group that developed the operating system was dissatisfied with DEC, so its members refused DEC's offer to buy a VAX when the machine was announced in 1977. They had already begun a Unix port to the Interdata 8/32 instead. DEC then approached a different Bell Labs group in Holmdel, New Jersey, which accepted the offer and started work on what was to become 32V.[1]

Performed by Tom London and John F. Reiser,[2] porting Unix was made possible due to work done between the Sixth and Seventh Editions of the operating system to decouple it from its "native" PDP-11 environment. The 32V team first ported the C compiler (Johnson's pcc), adapting an assembler and loader written for the Interdata 8/32 version of Unix to the VAX. They then ported the April 15, 1978 version of Unix, finding in the process that "[t]he (Bourne) shell [...] required by far the largest conversion effort of any supposedly portable program, for the simple reason that it is not portable."[3]

UNIX/32V was released without paging virtual memory, retaining only the swapping architecture of Seventh Edition. A virtual memory system was added at Berkeley by Bill Joy and Özalp Babaoğlu in order to support Franz Lisp; this was released to other Unix licensees as the Third Berkeley Software Distribution (3BSD) in 1979.[4] Thanks to the popularity of the two systems' successors, 4BSD and UNIX System V, UNIX/32V is an antecedent of nearly all modern Unix systems.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Salus, Peter H. (2005). "Chapter 6. 1979". The Daemon, the Gnu and the Penguin. Groklaw.
  2. ^ McIlroy, M. D. (1987). A Research Unix reader: annotated excerpts from the Programmer's Manual, 1971–1986 (PDF) (Technical report). CSTR. Bell Labs. 139.
  3. ^ Thomas B. London and John F. Reiser (1978). A Unix operating system for the DEC VAX-11/780 computer. Bell Labs internal memo 78-1353-4.
  4. ^ McKusick, Marshall Kirk (1999). "Twenty Years of Berkeley Unix: From AT&T-Owned to Freely Redistributable". Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution. O'Reilly.

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