Awarded to an institution or individual(s) recognized for developing a software system that has had a lasting influence, reflected in contributions to concepts, in commercial acceptance, or both. The Software System Award carries a prize of $35,000. Financial support for the Software System Award is provided by IBM.

Rashid and Tevanian Led Mach’s Development as an Innovative System ForWidespread Commercial Use

Mach, a pioneering operating system used as the basis for later operating systems, has won the 2014 ACM Software System Award. The lead developers, Rick Rashid and Avie Tevanian, created a system that advanced the state of operating systems and led to practical, widespread adoption. Mach-based operating systems are used by hundreds of millions of people 30 years after the project began. 

The Mach operating system, a DARPA-funded research project at Carnegie Mellon University conducted from 1983-1992, was based on innovative approaches to virtual memory management and microkernel architecture. Under the leadership of Rashid and Tevanian, Mach established a foundation for later operating systems on personal computers, tablets, and mobile phones. Rashid founded Microsoft Research in 1991, and is Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft Applications and Services Group. Tevanian, formerly of Apple Inc., is Managing Director of Elevation Partners, a private equity firm.

Mach’s influence reflects both significant commercial acceptance and substantial contributions to the concept of operating systems. For example, Mach’s portability and performance attributes made it possible for Apple to rely extensively on it in their operating systems for their devices.

The Mach kernel forms the heart of the Apple iOS and OS X systems. Mach was at the core of NeXT’s operating system, which Apple acquired and subsequently used as the basis of OS X and iOS. Mach’s influence can also be traced to operating systems such as GNU Hurd, and UNIX systems OSF/1, Digital Unix, and Tru64 Unix.