What is an operating system?

In the 17’s era, there were no computers founded at that time. But after a revolution, computers were invented for the problem-solving of human beings. Furthermore, the operating system was produced to help in the working of computers. But what is an operating system?

What is an Operating System in computer?

Software that is used as an interface between computer hardware and the users is called an operating system. Every computer has an operating system to run other programs to carry out instructions.

The main important role played by an operating system is to provide communication between computers and users. Because it provides remarkable user-interfaces like command-line interfaces (CLI) and graphical user interfaces (GUI).

This operating system provides an environment to run other programs on the computer. It carries out different tasks like memory management, handling of input and output operations, process management, and many others as well.

Operating System Examples

  • Unix
  • Linux
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Android
  • IOS
  • Chrome OS

History of Operating System

In the early 1950s, the first operating system was developed for IBM 701 by General Motors and it was known as GMOs.

At the end of the 1960s, programmers developed a new operating system to perform multiple tasks in a single specific computer program known as multiprogramming.

Microsoft produced the first Windows operating system by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975.

In the 1980s, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Company, introduced Macintosh OS to the world.

After the success of that OS, they created MS-DOS in 1981. To this date, Windows has launched several operating systems like Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11.

Types of Operating Systems

  • Batch Operating System Time-Sharing OS
  • Distributed Operating System
  • Network OS
  • Real-Time Operating System
  • Mobile Phone OS


  •  Batch Operating System 

This is the first operating system and it didn’t interact with the computer directly.  A user writes his or her command on a punch card. After that, submit it to a computer operator.

The operator sorts similar jobs and groups them together into a batch. Then these are executed one by one by following the FCFS (First Come First Serve) principle.


  • Bank Statements
  • Payroll System

and others.

  • Time-Sharing OS

This is known as a multitasking operating system. Every task is given CPU time for its execution. These tasks are from one user or multi-users. The CPU time given to each task is called quantum.

When the time is finished and the task is executed. Then the Operating system moves to the next task to execute it. As a result, CPU idle time is lessened. The chance of software duplication gets lowered.


  • Unix


  • Distributed Operating System

In the world of computer technology, a distributed operating system is a recent advancement. Different interlinked computers interact with each other through a shared communication network. That’s why it is also known as a loosely coupled system.

It enables a single user to access files or software that isn’t present on its system. Moreover, this operating system gives access to the systems interconnected to that particular network.


    • LOCUS
  • Network OS

The systems are run on a server and other computers are taken as clients. This network operating system allows shared access to printers, files, and others over a small network like LAN.

This is also known as tightly coupled systems. Because of this, all the users know the configurations, individual connections, and others as well. It provides all the functions required for networking purposes.


  • Novell NetWare
  • Linux

and numerous others.


  • Real-Time Operating System

It provides many functions in a real-time system. They are helpful in short-lived events like real-time simulations. The time needed to process and give responses to inputs is small. And it’s called response time. This has two main types:

Soft Real-Time OS

This soft real-time operating system is for those applications that have less response time. It uses the priority principle in which it gives priorities to an important job over a less important job.


  • Reservation System and other

Hard Real-Time OS

It is developed for those applications that have very high strict response times. And for these not a single delay is acceptable. Sometimes, this virtual memory is found.


  • Life-saving equipment like airbags, and much more.


  • Mobile Phone OS

After the invention of smartphones and others, it provides a platform on which other applications can run. This has a user-friendly interface that makes the device easy to use.


  • Android OS
  • IOS 

Functions of the Operating System

There are many functions of the operating system and they are described as follows:

  • Processor Management

In a multiprogramming system, the operating system decides which process gets the CPU time for its execution. This is called process scheduling and the OS keeps the status of processes. So, allocation or de-allocation of CPU is in the hands of the OS.

  • Memory Management

This management refers to primary memory or main memory. The main memory provides a storage space that is accessed directly by the processor. The operating system decides which process gets when and how many parts of a memory.

  • Input/Output Device Management 

The operating system has drivers for every input/output device. Its program called the I/O controller keeps a track of all devices. The allocation or de-allocation of input/output devices to a process is done by the operating system.

  • File Management

This manages the file systems of the computers. These systems use directories for organizing files. Moreover, navigating files and accessing files is done by the operating system. All the functionalities for file management are carried out through OS.

  • Secondary Storage Management 

Main memory is small to permanently store all programs and data. So, secondary storage is used as a backup for the main memory. Many computer systems use disks as secondary storage. This is managed by the operating system. It’s responsible for freeing up space, disk scheduling, and storage allocation.


  • Communication

For the different end users of a computer, the operating system plays an important role in the communication and assignment of interpreters, compilers, and other resources.

  • System performance

It keeps a track of response time between resource requests and system response. This is done to improve the overall system performance. Moreover, the operating system provides info required for troubleshooting.

  • Network Management

This is a process of handling and administering a network. A computer network comprises several computers interconnected with each other. The responsibilities of network management are network operation, security, maintenance, and many other aspects as well.

  • Security

Password protection is used by the operating system to protect user data and prevents unwanted access of users to programs.

  •  Detection of Errors

The operating system monitors the entire system to detect errors. Moreover, it assists to avoid the malfunction of a computer system.

Operating System Features 

  • Execution of programs
  • Supervised and protected mode
  • Provides file systems and disk access
  • Manages Input/output operations
  • Detection of errors and troubleshooting
  • Resource allocation or de-allocation
  • Virtual Memory Multitasking


Pros of OS

  • Computing Source
  • User-Friendly Interface
  • Resource Sharing
  • Protection
  • Multitasking



  • Complicated Structure
  • Fragmentation 
  • Expensive
  • System Error 


What are the kernel and shell in the operating system?


Kernel is the core of the operating system and it’s known as the ‘heart of the operating system.’ A kernel is the innermost layer of an OS. This acts as an interlink between an operating system and computer hardware.

The main features of this are process synchronization, low-level process scheduling, context switching, and many numerous others. Two types of kernels provide different functions as well.


This is a command interpreter that takes information and instructions entered by an end user. It’s a communicator between a user and an operating system. Shell is the outermost layer of the operating system.

Shell prompts the user to give input and interprets the input for the OS. From the operating system, it manages the output. It has a shell script that is a sequence of system commands stored in a file.


In a nutshell:

The operating system is an interface between computer hardware and the end users. This has proved very beneficial in the field of computers. It is developing day by day for advanced computers.

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