S and S-Plus The S language and its related libraries and tools are the result of research in statistical computing at Bell Laboratories, starting in the late 1970s. The language has evolved through several major versions to become the most widely used environment for research in data analysis and statistics. (If you're interested in the evolution, Rick Becker has written a brief history including the developments up to about 1992.)
In one form or another, S has been available by license from Bell Laboratories since the early 1980s. Since about 1993, this license has had the form of an exclusive license, held by the makers of S-Plus, the MathSoft Corporation. Exclusivity means that the license holder has the exclusive right to sell products incorporating S. In effect, S is available exclusively in the form of the S-Plus system. The S software coming from research at Bell Labs is supplied to MathSoft, who provide modifications and additions to create S-Plus and other software products, as well as providing support, education, and other services. As of the last updating of this page, MathSoft was offering S-Plus 5.0, based on the version of S described in Programming with Data, for Solaris and Linux platforms. See their web site for up-to-date information on the products and platforms available.