Operating systems

5 of the best desktop operating systems you never used

Chances are, you're reading this blog entry on a Windows machine. If not, you're probably running a Mac or Linux. Here are five of the best desktop operating systems that you probably never used, but paved the way for what you're running right now.

Bill Gates' original dream when he created Microsoft was to have "a computer on every desk and in every home, all running Microsoft software." Clearly, he accomplished that goal. Depending on whose statistics you want to believe, Windows has a market share in the high 80% - low 90% range. So, unless you run Linux or prefer Mac OS X, chances are you're a Windows user.

When it comes to desktop operating systems, your choices are really pretty narrow. You either run Windows, or you do some Unix-like OS. There are the 12,000 different Linux distributions. There's always FreeBSD if you prefer your Unix without a Finnish flavor. You could go the vendor route and run AIX or HP-UX. Sun has Solaris, and as much as you might want to, you can't forget SCO. And of course, there's always Mac OS X. Although it may sound like variety when it comes down to it, it's still Windows vs. Unix.

There are other options, or at least there USED to be. Here are a list of five of the best operating systems that you probably never used.

OS/2

No discussion can be had of Microsoft alternatives without mentioning OS/2. Until Microsoft shipped Windows 2000 Professional, OS/2 4.0 was probably my desktop OS of choice. For the purposes of this section, I'm referring to OS/2 2.0 and later, not IBM and Microsoft's ill fated OS/2 1.x series.

IBM billed OS/2 as being a "Better DOS than DOS" and a "Better Windows than Windows". Anyone who ever ran OS/2 knows that IBM largely succeeded. From a technical perspective, OS/2 was much more solid than DOS, Windows 3.x or even Windows 9x.

OS/2 had many innovations that we come to view as standard equipment in an OS today. OS/2 was the first major 32-bit operating system. It was completely multi-threaded. Its HPFS file system resisted fragmentation and could natively support large filenames. OS/2 was the first major OS to integrate a Web browser into the operating system. It was also the first operating system to offer voice-control.

There are many reasons why OS/2 failed. Windows 95 came out and even though OS/2 was more stable, its inability to run Win32 API-based programs doomed it. It ran DOS and Windows 3.1 programs so well, ISVs never had an incentive to create native OS/2 programs. Microsoft's licensing scheme with OEMs discouraged hardware vendors, including IBM itself, from bundling OS/2. It didn't help that IBM couldn't market OS/2 to save its life.

Even though the last version of OS/2 shipped in 1996, IBM continued to support OS/2 until December 31, 2006. Many OS/2 supporters have tried to get IBM to release OS/2's source code for open source development, but IBM refuses. Supposedly this is due to some of the Microsoft code that still exists in OS/2 that IBM has exclusive rights to. At the same time however, IBM licensed OS/2 to Serenity Systems who continue to support, upgrade, and extend OS/2 in their own product called eComStation. Below is a screen shot of eCS from my test machine:

One final bit of OS/2 trivia. Microsoft co-developed OS/2 1.x with IBM. When IBM and Microsoft got 'divorced' in the late 80's, Microsoft took its part of the code for what was to become OS/2 3.0 on the IBM/Microsoft product roadmap and created Windows NT 3.1, which today lives on as Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Every OS/2 user's favorite quote from Bill Gates is, of course: "We believe OS/2 is the platform for the 90's."

NeXT

The NeXTSTEP OS is one that even I never used. It came up in conversation with Jason Hiner who had used it while a student at IU. NeXTSTEP has a important place in history that can't be overlooked.

Today, Apple is Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs is Apple. You can't really think of one without the other. It wasn't always that way though. In 1985, in grand Greek Tragedy form, Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple by John Sculley, the executive that Jobs himself brought in from Pepsi to save Apple from financial disaster. When Jobs left Apple, he went on to form the NeXT Computer Company.

NeXT's initial goal was to create powerful workstations for education and business. The NeXT workstation's major innovation at the time was its 256Mb WORM drive that it used for removable storage rather than a traditional floppy drive. The NeXT came with the entire works of Shakespeare on a single CD-ROM which was one of the 'cool factors' about the box when it was introduced. The NeXT workstation also continued Job's history of thinking different when it came to design, because the NeXT workstation was a simple Borg-like cube.

At the heart of the NeXT workstation was the NeXTSTEP OS. This OS was based on the Mach Unix kernel. It was originally developed for NeXT's PowerPC CPU, but Jobs also created a version of it that ran on the Intel 486 CPU called NeXTSTEP 486. Here's a screenshot of NeXTSTEP from Wikipedia:

NeXTSTEP is significant because when Jobs finally retook his rightful place as the head of Apple in 1996, he did so by arranging Apple to buy NeXT. In doing so, the NeXTSTEP OS came along as part of the package and ultimately became Mac OS X.

BeOS

The BeOS was an interesting, powerful, and probably the most jinxed OS that was ever created. It debuted in 1991 and some of its innovations such as a 64-bit journaling file system in BFS, still haven't found their way into current operating systems.

BeOS came very close to becoming the operating system that we use on the Mac platform today. BeOS started out as an proprietary operating system for the BeBox which was a workstation that ran PowerPC CPUs. When the BeBox failed to go anywhere in the marketplace, Be tried to sell the company to Apple to replace MacOS, which by 1996 was starting to show its age in the face of Windows 95. Apple nearly did it, but decided to buy NeXT and bring back Steve Jobs as mentioned above.

Be then continued its desperate bid to find a home and purpose for the OS. It started by trying to peddle BeOS to the makers of Mac-clones who were cut off from Apple when Steve Jobs returned. That didn't work. (Yes, in the mid-90's you could actually buy clones of the Mac. Apple licensed the OS and the Mac ROMs to OEMs. One of Steve's first actions upon getting back in at Apple was to squash the Mac-clone market.)

Be then tried to port the BeOS to the Intel platform and get some traction against Windows. That didn't work either. Be next tried to create a version of BeOS for Internet appliances. When that failed as well, Be sold out to PalmSource who wanted to include BeOS technology in their next OS. Guess how that turned out? PalmSource subsequently crashed and burned, selling the rights to BeOS to Access Co, a maker of mobile devices.

I never used BeOS other than to install it and kick it around a little to see how it worked. I have a copy running in Virtual PC on my test machine, but due to limited hardware support of the virtual machine environment, BeOS won't come up in color and won't talk to the network card. The screen shot below comes from jfedor.org.

DESQview

The last two I want to mention aren't really operating systems per se, but rather operating environments. But, if Windows 9x can qualify as an operating system, so can these. The first is DESQview.

DESQview was a program that ran on top of DOS that allowed you to multitask DOS programs. As a matter of fact, until Microsoft introduced Windows 95, with the exception of OS/2 the best way to run multiple character based DOS programs was through the use of DESQview.

DESQview didn't multithread programs, because such technology didn't exist at the time. Rather, through the use of QEMM, DESQview used expanded memory on your computer if it had an 80386 CPU to run DOS programs simultaneously. If you only had a 286, you couldn't use expanded memory, but DESQview would still task-switch programs through extended memory. It wasn't as efficient as running on a 386, but it still got the job done.

Of course, Windows 3.x could multitask DOS programs. Compared to DESQview however, Windows 3.0 it had so much overhead, that it was slower and often wouldn't leave enough lower 640Kb memory behind for DOS programs to run. If you had enough extended memory in your computer, QEMM, DESQview's memory manager, could actually free almost the entire lower 640Kb memory area for program use.

DESQview was one of the first victims in the PC tradition of Good Marketing Beats Better Technology. Even though DESQview multitasked DOS programs better than Windows, Microsoft ultimately won the day. Quarterdeck, the maker of DESQview, tried creating a GUI-version of it called DESQview/X, but this never went anywhere. Ultimately, Quarterdeck sold out to Symantec. Symantec still owns the rights to DESQview, but doesn't market it.

I used DESQview extensively in college. Even on a 80286 without QEMM, you could still multitask programs very well using DESQview. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my copy of DESQview to grab a screenshot for this blog post. I'll see if I can find it and get one. For now, I found this very grainy image from Charles Petzold's Web site.

GEOS / GeoWorks

In early 90's if you wanted to get on the GUI bandwagon and didn't want to use a Mac, your only choice was really Windows 3.0. But to make Windows 3.0 work properly, you really needed to have 386 with EGA or VGA graphics. If you had an 'older' computer, you were pretty much out of luck. That's where PC/GEOS came in.

GEOS was a GUI that ran on Atari and Commodore 64 computers. In 1990, GeoWorks created a version of GEOS called PC/GEOS which would support a GUI and limited multitasking on 286 and even some XT machines (8088-based PC clones). GEOS was lightweight, fast, and easy to use but never got traction from software developers because it was hard to program for and the developer kit was expensive.

GEOS included Ensemble which was its own office suite program consisting of a word processor, spreadsheet, dialer, database, and calendar. This was in an era where Microsoft Office didn't exist and if you wanted these applications you had to buy them separately. GEOS was also used by AOL for the DOS version of their connection software.

Once Windows conquered the desktop and hardware caught up to Windows' appetite, GEOS fell out of favor. GeoWorks ultimately sold out to NewDeal Inc, which tried to market the OS as a Windows alternative to those with older machines and for schools. When this didn't work, NewDeal ultimately failed and sold its business to BreadBox who continue to make, support and update a version of GEOS called BreadBox Ensemble.

My copy of GEOS is long gone, but I ran it for a while on my Tandy 1000. It did the job, but I needed more power than what was in the supported applications and it didn't run DOS programs very well. The attached screen shot is from the Guidebook Gallery.

All that and more

So there you have 5 of the best operating systems you probably never used. Each introduced innovations that we still use today, as well as some we're still trying to catch up with even though the programs debuted in the 20th century. In each case, they were overlooked, underrated, and ultimately crushed by the Microsoft steamroller.

There are plenty of OSes I left off the list: CP/M, TRS-DOS, LDOS, DR-DOS and others (which I encourage you to remind me of.) We'll try to cover those in the future as well.

276 comments
john_malcowitchonow
john_malcowitchonow

One of the most wide spread systems besides CP/M, Unix and Windows ever was RTS-80. It was an incredidbly fast multi-user-system which was spread world-wide (US/India/Chine) unauthorized. Althoufg it was a very early system, you find links till today in the net.

john_malcowitchonow
john_malcowitchonow

One of the most wide spread systems besides CP/M, Unix and Windows ever was RTS-80. It was an incredidbly fast multi-user-system which was spread world-wide (US/India/Chine) unauthorized. Althoufg it was a very early system, you find links till today in the net.

Mikebanks
Mikebanks

Let us not forget DeskMate ... specifically, DeskMate 3.3. It gave Windows 3.0 and GeoWorks a good run. (In the end I think GEOS was superior.) --Michael A. Banks Author of "Getting the Most Out of DeskMate 3" (1989)

megamanx
megamanx

By User Interface, they are dated, but by functionality, they are hardcore. I never even knew about them, but sure am willing to check out.

prbaugh
prbaugh

What about Intel's iRMX386

gj7
gj7

Hobbyists from the early PC era will recall H-DOS, the 8-bit DOS from Heathkit. A far better design than CP/M. Largely written by Gordon Letwin who was hired by IBM/MS to rewrite OS/2. HDOS was well documented and source code was free. It was renamed ZDOS when Zenith bought the Heathkit computer business. There was some nice code in that OS. Apple DOS was a miracle for its time. Woz packed 10 pounds of code in a 5 pound sack. I think only an engineer could truly appreciate the work of the genius Wosniak. The source for the ROMs was in the back of the manual and it came as close to poetry as any code I've ever seen.

timekoder13
timekoder13

LuvLy man. I'm not a tech geek, I just like computers, tho' my co-workers think I am cause all they know about are iPods and iPhones. Don't ask them to: yikes, gulp, hide mine eyes...re-boot a pc or start in safe mode. I'm so sorry I didn't major in computers like I thought I wanted to. Then I'd know more of what you speak. Just found my PC jr. in mom's basement last weekend. Dibble dabbled since they taught us Basic back in my 1980 5th grade class, C64s, I remember. Why'd I listen to that stupid German Philosophy TA????

guidoedc
guidoedc

I think this was very interesting to remember, when I saw about 5 of the desktop operating systems, I asked myself what they could be. And really I was forgotten about the others different to Windows, Linux and Unix. But, let me say DesqView also I agreed that this not an operating systems and so Windows 95, What a worderfull days, where not fat PC requiered, and security is increasing every day and so are antivirus. Could be good business sell more fast computer and more memory but, could be possible reach the virus run?

Walker Evans
Walker Evans

I ran all of these on my first machine, an Amstrad with an 8086 processor. All of these worked as well as or better than the stuff out of Redmond, but the star of the bunch is GEOS/GeoWorks. My little Amstrad wouldn't run Windows but it handled GEOS just fine. The real icing for me was the discovery that I could do things with GeoWorks that my friends with Windows couldn't duplicate. AND, it was an integrated package before Office was available. Truth be told, there are times when I seriously consider pulling out those ten GEOS/GeoWorks set-up disks and putting them on this machine; perhaps not to replace Windows and Office, but to supplement them. They may have been built in the last millennium, but they are still superb products; if quality were considered over advertising these would have killed Windows. But then, if quality were the deciding factor, we'd all have bought Sony Betamax machines instead of the technically inferior Vertical Helical Scan machines, wouldn't we?

dchsweb
dchsweb

Living in the past. Get over it.

marcus
marcus

You forgot Pick! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pick_operating_system R83 Pick ran as an OS on PCs way back in (predictably) 1983, and actually outsold DOS, and even Windows, well into the 90s, especially in (go figure) Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and England. Today, Pick lives on in IBM's U2 and Domino/Notes, Ladybridge's QM, EDP's UniVision, InterSystems' Cach??, Temenos' jBase, OnWare, Northgate's Reality, Revelation's OpenInsight, Raining Data's D3 (et al), and (are you ready?) Microsoft's Access. (In fact, Windows' WinFS is, at its core, M$'s attempt at implementing their own Pick FS++.) But why wait for WinFS? All Picks are still actively developed and supported, and can serve not only as an ODBC-compliant database engine/server, but also as an excellent scripting language. I recommend QM for it's price, features, performance, and the fact that it even runs on Mac, as well as on most *nixes, and, of course, Windows, as do all modern iterations of all the Picks.

curtis
curtis

Anyone remember CP/M? How about Xenix?

geneonlbk
geneonlbk

MP/M - in the middle seventies I put together a Digital Group Z80 machine, crafted an 8" 220 VAC floppy disk using a NEC conroller chip and started to run CP/M. By the early eighties I was designing sixteen user MP/M systems employing 16 motherboards and a shared 10 gig Shugart hard disk. This was heady stuff. MP/M was a fine op/sys as far as I was concerned in those days. I skipped DOS and went to Zenix which was a nice flavor of Unix & BSD. I just couldn't bring myself to use a single user op/sys (DOS) after enjoying MP/M.

cwgregory
cwgregory

I actually did used Desqview. Tried BEOS. Thought about trying NeXT and almost tried OS2. I guess that makes me really old.

eric_andresen
eric_andresen

Right now, as of this day, I am STILL running Win2k Pro on my main PC. It is fast, and (as it has already been noted) with 3rd party apps, relatively secure, and does everything I ask of it. No Direct X 10, or Mediaplayer 11, or IE 7, but so far, nothing I do needs those things. Still stable as a rock, 8 years later. I reboot once a month or so to reclaim resources, and run a defrag about as often. I cannot recall a bluescreen yet this year so far. Not that WoW is very demanding, it plays WoW great. My other OS's? Writing this entry on a G4 Mac running OS X.4, and my old Pentium (1) 233mhz laptop has Puppy Linux on it.

tarotray
tarotray

No-one has mentioned MSX & MSX2, which ran on Z80 machines in the late eighties. With hardware sprites and digital video overlay capabilities, it was the most advanced system of its era, yet killed by MS/IBM marketing - such is the way of the world.

DonG43
DonG43

SOS came out with the Apple III as a business OS. One thing it could do that no PC OS can do to this day is to address a removable drive by name. If you named a floppy "My_Data", you could ask for My_Data/My_Spreadsheet. If another floppy (e.g. Bills_data) were in the drive, it would not open My_spreadsheet. You still can't do that in Win XP or Vista.

stevehayr
stevehayr

Burrows / Convergent Technologies OS... for a command prompt based OS was pretty cool for it's time - it would run commands even if you didn't type the full command name... ok, easy enough to do... but was nice. Then there was the click-together brick modules, like disk drives, voice (some early IVR systems used this - one I worked on was done in the late 80's using BTOS), modems... whatever. Died once GUI's came along in to the corporate environment. And anyway, what's all this MS beating up going on!!?? OS/2 wasn't that great, my Mac from that period crashed constantly - Next was pretty cool, but didn't run any apps people wanted - geeks loved it.. in fact you can plot the demise of OS's purely on the apps... Word Perfect and Lotus screwed up - as did IBM. The only reason the Mac survived was because the office apps ran (coz Mac OS itself was nothing special). Sure Windows wasn't any good either - but it had apps and a good developer community and developer tools (anyone ever try and write a *reliable* app for Netware!?)

dibene
dibene

OS/2 was silently killed by IBM itself. In that period I worked for that company, and had the chance to see an internal, classified, memo by Steve Mills, the Director of the Software Division at that time. In that memo were analyzed the market opportunities for middleware, developed by IBM, targeted at the Windows platform. The relative income was deemed greater than that that otherwise could be obtained by using the same development resources to support and expand OS/2. The death for OS/2 was then sanctioned... slowly, more and more developers were moved from the OS/2 labs to where DB2, Transaction Manager, Communication Manager, etc. were being developed (for Windows). Economically, maybe a wise move, Long term strategically, maybe not. ------------- For obvious reasons, I prefer to not reveal my name.

j-mart
j-mart

The best of British - RISCOS on the ACORN grew from the BBC Archimedes machines that used ARM CPU's. These machines had a well developed GUI in the late 80's and were strong in the education market in Britain, and in her former colonies such as New Zealand. Machines are hard to corrupt or break an thus were an excellent machine for schools. Came with BBC basic and much excellent software for the education arena. I have an A5000 4 meg ram includes the video ram, from 1992 still goes well. Gives much better performance than a 486 machine with 8 meg and 512 video ram running win 3.11. Well designed machines that use every scrap of ram very efficiently. I also have an A4000 from the same area that has only 2 meg ram which is still quite usable. I still use my A5000 for the odd real job still as a couple of the apps I have on it are still up to it.

tjdadj
tjdadj

My first venture into multi-tasking happened in '84, when I bought OS-9 for the Radio Shack Color computer.. Pretty slick OS, based on unix, and extremely fast. BTW, OS-9 is the OS used in NASA"s Gemini, Apollo, and the Shuttle. After the Coco (color computer), I became a hardware developer for the Atari ST, and eventually got OS-9 for it too. '87, Me and a friend, started work to develop a online knowledgebase that simulated a library in concept. Although the knowledge base worked fine, the serial drivers were never finished to the point that they could dependably control a modem. My partner finally gotta a great job offer, and I switched to PC's.. Still have 6 ST's, all running, w/ OS-9 on 2 of them..

deepsand
deepsand

Windows itself, until NT and its successors, was likewise not a true OS, but a GUI atop an OS.

cubeslave
cubeslave

I liked GeoWorks the one time I tried it, but the only copy I had my hand on used GeoWorks as the front end of an online service (I can't remember which one right now) that I decided not to stay a member of. I had an IBM PC with a 286 accelerator card (THE CPU replacement kind, not the full blown kind that treated the rest of the PC like a peripheral) and it seemed to perform pretty well.

seanferd
seanferd

Near Moning Sun? :D I barely remember seeing DeskMate. I do believe I'll have to look that up and refresh my memory. Thanks!

pgit
pgit

Hello Mike. Scroll waaay up and look for a post from a 'catseverywhere." Nobody forgot ya! I used Deskmate to tremendous effect. You can't know how hard it is to keep a corporate flight department. I mean keep it in existence. When 1980 rolled along and "M&A" and "cuts" became part of the vernacular, I had to constantly justify the cost of maintaining a flight department. When the Tandy 100 came along I grabbed one, but I never did any math on it. Then with the advent of the x286 I saw a Tandy 2810 in Radio shack sporting Deskmate and I was hooked. I came home with a $1,700 computer and the wife nearly took my head off. But I was able to put together a formula that calculated the actual cost of ownership versus doing the equivalent trips via airlines and car rentals. It was actually quite complex, calculating from the basis of the seat tax the companies had to pay for the use of their own aircraft. (go figure, eh?) I was able to show we were money ahead with the aircraft, year after year. It caused some trouble though, when the 4 CEOs (joint ownership) saw there were disparities in cost, because some used it more efficiently than others. (if there are 8 seats you pay the tax on 8 seats, even if only one person is aboard) Anyway, kept my job for many years, starting with the help of Deskmate. Ironically, I eventually pushed the keys around on a large overhaul that wa looming and actually suggested they disolve the flight department, sell the aircraft ad buy one, and put it on lease-back with a charter company. They did. So I also used a computer to talk myself out of a job, and a great one at that! But no regrets. My honesty and dedication has paid off ever since. And let us not forget hangman! OMG, in order to add complexity someone wrote the code to put "ers" or "s" at the end of nouns and pronouns. My two young (at the time) boys learned to ask for e r and s first thing, and 50% of the time they had a hit...

plav
plav

Oh yes, gj7, the ROM source in the back of the manual was indeed great reading! I taught myself 8-bit assembler by learning to understand that code when I bought my first Apple ][. Thanks for the memory.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The 16-bit version would use the top 360k of RAM for the system area, no matter how much RAM was installed. My first office computer was a Z-100 series with maximum memory installed. When I got there, it ran a 360k RAM disk and still reported over 700k free RAM. The only limitation was the application software.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Our industry is littered with superior technologies that where smashed against the ground by inferior technologies with better marketing campains. Also, liking and remembering an older OS doesn't cancel out using a newer OS. In most cases, "living in the past" and knowing more than the latest hip OS makes one far better at what we do. I can remember one the first time I hit the up arrow to get the last command back on a WinNT box; not because I new cmd.com included that function but because I'd been working with different OS and it seemed like a logical thing to try. I heard a stunned "how did you do that" come from my boss at the time. Knowing the archaic MS Dos has also saved me more than once by being able to tweak a command.sys and autoexec on a later Windows version for specific needs. For security, living in the past of Windows OS is especially important since those old Dos issues are still there in later MS products. Heck, if we didn't remember the past we'd all think Flash was the only way to make a website. ;) If knowing OS liniage and alternatives doesn't make you a better tech then instead consider ages old saying about knowing your history rather than repeating it's failings.

deepsand
deepsand

Compatible with CP/M & MP/M, TurboDos was a highly modularized NOS, making it very easily to configure for a wide variety of platforms & LAN configurations. Used it, running on Digilog machines, for years for a number of clients.

deepsand
deepsand

Used it mostly for utilities & development, as there were then few applications available for it that could justify the cost of the machine for my customer base.

Obviator
Obviator

Ran on a multi-user Cromemco also an Osborne II bought my first computer, a Commodore 128, largely because it would dual boot between Commodore OS and CP/M, i could have the best of both worlds; games and Wordstar/dBASE II! Whoo-Hooo!

mikeholli
mikeholli

After running open solaris for a little better than a week now. I have to say it totally beats up on kubuntu. And WELL, we knows what it does with any version of Windows O/S! I've NEVER seen such stability out of any O/S made for the average desktop. I'm NOW waiting with baited breath for IBM's release of AIX for the x86 processor. open solaris is just too cool to even name everything that's included with it. BUT it's version of Wine is SPECTACULAR!!! I was running native XP programs right there, and they were running as smooth as butter. KEEP UP THE EXCELLENT WORK SUN, and Windows will totally disappear from my computer network completely. :) P.S. if you want to enjoy the results that I am, just head over too http://www.opensolaris.com Till you get use to it, I say leave your current O/S alone and just run the Live CD version of it, to make your own decision.

mikeholli
mikeholli

Hello PEOPLE!! Remember the Commodore Vic20, C64 and the Commodore Pet? The C63 JUST crush the Atari400 like it was a Sunday afternoon walk, The Pet giggled at DOS and Windows 3.0, and Apple Macs! The Vic20 WAS the VERY first home users PC!! that was NOW only affordable, but you also have a compiler built into it! Sure back in those days we were young and only making the computer tell us the time, or create a simple game on them. BUT!!!! It was Commodore that breed the computer programmers. The C64/Pet were programmer's dreams we had EVERYTHING right there, we didn't have to write code and transfer it to any IBM RS series Mainframes!!! We had it ALL, right at our fingertips!! I say screw the Atari, EVEN the Atari2600 was garbage next to the Colecovision game system!

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Interesting. Thanks for the info. I always liked OS/2 but could never figure out what was wrong with IBM in regards to it. Not the first bit of schizophrenia I've heard of about IBM concerning it. The whole bit about the IBM's PC division refusing to preload IBM's own homegrown OS because of fear of getting a bad deal on Windows licenses from Microsoft speaks loads about much internally sabotaged OS/2.

deepsand
deepsand

that it was used certain early PCs. Its modularity is a characteristic that it shares with other underrated OSes of those early days, one that served to make them more flexible, and therefore more useful, than the monolithic OSes.

deepsand
deepsand

iRMX is a multi-processing, multi-threaded, pre-emptive, RTOS that was targeted at embedded systmes based on the 808x/80x8x family of CPUs. Although there were variants such as DOS-RMX and iRMX for Windows, given its being a RTOS, iRMX was never intended to be employed as a general purpose OS.

mikeholli
mikeholli

Let's test your knowledge on the past shall we...... What was the GUI interface that the Osbourne used. And no it wasn't either Ozzy, or Sharon (g)

curtis
curtis

OS/2 died on the vine because of a deal made with Microsoft to let it die in order for IBM to have the ability to sell Windows 95. The deal was struck the day Windows 95 was released and this information came out during the Microsoft anti-trust trial and the testimony came from John Soyring. IBM could never get developers to develop for it, but there was a version of OpenOffice that ran on it. Java ran twice as fast on OS/2 as it did on Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000. Above all, the server version was very stable.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I hear it has multicore capability now!

deepsand
deepsand

However, Fingerhut has no monopoly on that phrase; it seems to be a staple of the direct mail marketers tools. The distinction is that a few firms, such as Fingerhut, continue to indefinitely send that which they threaten to withhold, so that that phrase has been so thoroughly devalued in the minds of consumers as to be now useless as a motivator.

tct
tct

Interesting thing about Fingerhut. Although I've never purchased from them, I get their catalogs about ever 3 to 6 months, and the cover always says, "This could be your last catalog from us if we don't hear from you!" I keep hoping, but so far the catalogs keep coming. LOL!

plav
plav

Wow, here's another soul that hasn't heard that name in forever. Any contact whatsoever with them was enough to unleash an avalanche of junk mail, kind of like Harbor Freight today. IIRC there wasn't a GUI specific to the Osborne II, it was just another clone box of the day.

mikeholli
mikeholli

The GUI for the Osbourne II was very simplictic. It showed a scroll icon for the word processing, a 4 card hand for the games, (heart, diamond, club, and spade)Note: I found it funny when I took my magnifying glass and looked up close at those shape (yes, I would have to say shapes instead of polygons) you could see vertical lines thru each shape. Back to the desktop. It was very mininal at best you would get a neat little tiny picture when you added a new program (for the most part tho, it gave you this funky little ? mark). That's about all I could remember about it. That's one of the things I use to like about Service Merchandise, they would let you play with the floor models of what they sold. I know this is going to sound crazy, but I remember back in those days I thought the store clerks were geniuses. You have to remember I was a kid tho, and when they installed the demostration programs on the Ozzy II and that new icon popped onto the screen, it had to have been the coolest thing I had ever seen.

deepsand
deepsand

Now there's a name that I've not heard uttered in over 3 decades. That was the "kiss of death" if ever there was one, considering that Fingerhut's offerings were then targeted to the $1 or less junk item crowd. A quick search shows that they're still alive, but a bit more upscale, and a whole lot more varied in their offerings than they once were. In any case, what was the GUI on the Osborne II?

mikeholli
mikeholli

That's WHAT they had you think Deepsand. The Osbourne did make it to the marketplace. SORT OF, A couple of mail order companies had a few dozen Osborne II. Which were available thru Service Merchandise, and Fingerhut. There was a very tight limit on the availability of the Ozzy ll. I wasn't so lucky to be able to get one. They were sold out thru their brick and mortar stores in my location, as well as thru their catalog. BUT the picture of them from my memory really looked cool. ***EDIT*** I have a feeling in my soul that somewhere in in a barn in Iowa sits a shrink-wrapped skid load of Ozzy IIs

deepsand
deepsand

To my knowledge, the 1st machine marketed with a true GUI was the Apple Lisa, in 1983. As introduced in APR 81, the Osborne I had no GUI; the Osborne II never made it to market.

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