Here are a couple details of UNIX history I ran across this week.
Why AT&T first licensed UNIX to universities:
At this time , AT&T held a government-sanctioned monopoly on the US telephone system. The terms of AT&T’s agreement with the US government prevented it from selling software, which meant that it could not sell UNIX as a product. Instead … AT&T licensed UNIX for use in universities for a nominal distribution fee.
And why later they turned it into a commercial product:
… US antitrust legislation forced the breakup of AT&T (… the break-up became effective in 1982) with the consequence that, since it no longer held a monopoly on the telephone system, the company was permitted to market UNIX.
Source: The Linux Programming Interface
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