Who invented device drivers for computers?
A device driver creates a layer of abstraction between the hardware and the operating system. They were created by programmers who wanted
a standard set of system calls in interact with hardware.
Device drivers were ‘invented’ when x86 CPU’s added the capability to enter 32 bit protected mode. By changing to this mode, the CPU
changed how it addressed memory, therefore breaking the 16 bit BIOS system calls. Device drivers are the replacements for the functions
provided by the BIOS.
Device drivers have actually been used on computers since long before the 8086 (the first x86 processor) was created. A device driver is really
any piece of software that “drives” a device, usually so it can be used and controlled by other software. The UNIX operating system, for
example, had device drivers for disk drives, teletypes, printers, tape drives, and paper tape punchers at least as far back as 1974 (UNIX v5).
Most of the device drivers in UNIX v5 were even written in C at a time when most other operating systems were written in assembly language.
It’s hard to say who “invented” device drivers, however.