X/Open Company, Ltd. was a consortium founded by several European UNIX systems manufacturers in 1984 to identify and promote open standards in the field of information technology. More specifically, the original aim was to define a single specification for operating systems derived from UNIX, to increase the interoperability of applications and reduce the cost of porting software. Its original members were Bull, ICL, Siemens, Olivetti, and Nixdorf—a group sometimes referred to as BISON. Philips and Ericsson joined soon afterwards, at which point the name X/Open was adopted.
The group published its specifications under the name X/Open Portability Guide (or XPG). Issue 1 covered basic operating system interfaces, and was published within a year of the group's formation. Issue 2 followed in 1987, and extended the coverage to include Internationalization, Terminal Interfaces, Inter-Process Communication, and the programming languages C, COBOL, FORTRAN, and Pascal, as well as data access interfaces for SQL and ISAM. In many cases these were profiles of existing international standards.
XPG3 followed in 1988, its primary focus being convergence with the POSIX operating system specifications. This was probably the most widely used and influential deliverable of the X/Open organisation.
By 1990 the group had expanded to 21 members: in addition to the original five, Philips and Nokia from Europe; AT&T Corporation, Digital, Unisys, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NCR, Sun Microsystems, Prime Computer, Apollo Computer from North America; Fujitsu, Hitachi, and NEC from Japan; plus the Open Software Foundation and Unix International.
The X/Open Portability Guide is a standard for UNIX systems originally published by X/Open Company Ltd. It has a wider scope than POSIX, which is only concerned with direct operating system interfaces.
The Portability Guide specifies a Common Application Environment (CAE) intended to allow portability of applications across operating systems. The primary aim was compatibility between different vendors' implementations of UNIX, though some vendors also implemented the standards on non-UNIX platforms. The XPG3 and XPG4 standards, released in 1989 and 1992 respectively, define all aspects of the operating system, programming languages and protocols which compliant systems should have.
The last version of the XPG, the X/Open Portability Guide Issue 4 (also known as the Common Applications Environment Specification Issue 4 (CAE4)), was published in July 1992 by The Open Group. The Single UNIX Specification was based on the XPG4 standard.
The XPG4 specification includes these chapters:
- System Interfaces and Headers (XSH), Issue 4, ISBN 1-872630-47-2, C202
- Commands and Utilities (XCU), Issue 4, ISBN 1-872630-48-0, C203
- System Interface Definitions (XBD), Issue 4, ISBN 1-872630-46-4, C204
- Keld Jørn Simonsen. "EUUG 1985 Copenhagen Conference Technical Programme". Newsgroup: net.usenix. Usenet: 1120@diku.UUCP. - Mentions X/Open; lists members and its efforts to define "a new standard interface to UNIX".
- ICL and Europe, by Virgilio Pasquali, from RESURRECTION, The Bulletin of the Computer Conservation Society, Number 35, Summer 2005 - Contains more on history of X/Open
- C. B. Taylor. The X/OPEN group and the common application environment. ICL Technical Journal Vol 5(4) pp. 665–679, 1987.
- C. B. Taylor. X/Open - from Strength to Strength. ICL Technical Journal, Vol 7(3) pp. 565–583, 1991
- C. B. Taylor. X/Open and Open Systems. X/Open Company Limited, 1992. ISBN 1-872630-55-3