V7/x86 is a port of the Seventh Edition of the UNIX operating system to the x86 (IA-32) based PC. UNIX V7 was the last general distribution (around 1979) to come from the Research group at Bell Labs, the original home of UNIX. The port was done by Robert Nordier mostly around 1999 when "Ancient UNIX" source code licenses first became available, and was revised for release, with some enhancements, during 2006-7.
V7/x86 currently supports ATA (IDE) hard drives, ATAPI CDROM drives, a 1.44M floppy drive, and standard serial ports, in addition to the usual PC screen and keyboard. For easier installation and setup, supplied utilities allow access to CD (ISO 9660) and FAT (MS-DOS) filesystems. Source code is available under a Berkeley-style license.
One of the easiest ways to try out V7/x86 is to run it as a virtual machine. This saves all the trouble of dealing with actual hardware, and you can be up-and-running almost immediately.
Oracle VM VirtualBox is a popular cross-platform virtualization application, available at no charge. This quick step-by-step guide covers running V7/x86 on VirtualBox using the downloadable V7/x86 virtual machine package.
These pages focus on the original Cambridge BCPL porting kit using INTCODE, in a version that dates from around 1984. This compilation system is very close to that described and documented in the book BCPL -- the language and its compiler by Martin Richards and Colin Whitby-Strevens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).