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Operating Systems GUI Software

10 OSes We Left Behind 562

CWmike writes "As the tech community gears up to celebrate Unix's 40th birthday this summer, one thing is clear: People do love operating systems. They rely on them, get exasperated by them and live with their little foibles. So now that we're more than 30 years into the era of the personal computer, Computerworld writers and editors, like all technology aficionados, find ourselves with lots of memories and reactions to the OSes of yesteryear (pics galore). We have said goodbye to some of them with regret. (So long, AmigaOS!) Some of them we tossed carelessly aside. (Adios, Windows Me!) Some, we threw out with great force. (Don't let the door hit you on the way out, MS-DOS 4.0!) Today we honor a handful of the most memorable operating systems and interfaces that have graced our desktops over the years. Plus: We take a look back at 40 years since Unix was introduced."
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10 OSes We Left Behind

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  • Bastards! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lastchance_000 (847415) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:13PM (#27344379)
    They left out Atari TOS []!
    • by Bootarn (970788)
      I concur. I have three Ataris, and I still use them daily.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      They also left out GS/OS for the Apple IIgs. I guess these are gone *and* forgotten.

    • by jd (1658) <> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:09PM (#27345195) Homepage Journal

      I'd consider the Archimedes RISC OS to have been more significant than something like GEOS. 386BSD was the first true Open Source UNIX-like OS for the PC, yet never gets a mention. MSX was trashy, but was the first effort to get a truly cross-vendor platform. Back when Windows 3.x had no notion of preemption, there were OS' for the PC (Desqview and GEM) that were at least going in the right direction.

      Although GNU's HURD gets a brief mention, MACH is more than HURD and the fate of the original HURD cannot be understood without understanding the fate of MACH. Plan 9's fate is also unmentioned, although it likely had a major influence on the way people imagine clusters and cloud computing today.

      As is common with arbitrary top 10 lists, it shows far more about the prejudice of the one doing the selection than it does about the products being selected. There are no criteria for the list that I can see, other than the author knew how to spell the name.

      It doesn't give credible coverage of the OS' that have died over the years, nor credible coverage of the reasons. In fact, I'm not even sure you can give credible coverage of the entire OS domain in a mere 10 entries. A list of 100 OS' might just about give a feel for the experiments and ambitions of developers, the path evolution has taken, but ten? And most of those being derivatives of each other, rather than independent lines of thinking!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        I'd argue that EPOC16 is also pretty important. Most of the EPOC16 code was ditched for EPOC32 (it was mostly 8086 assembly, and EPOC32 needed to run on ARM), but a lot of inspiration came from the earlier version. EPOC32 was later rebranded Symbian and enjoys around 70% of the mobile phone market (which became larger than the PC market a couple of years ago). I'd say this makes EPOC16 a pretty influential - but mostly overlooked - OS.

        I only ever owned one device that ran EPOC16, but it did manage to ru

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the_humeister (922869)

        Yes, and then you'll list about 90 OSes that most people haven't heard of or don't care about. The 10 that the article has listed (actually 9 since X Window isn't an OS) most computing people have heard of and know about in passing at least.

    • Re:Bastards! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:09PM (#27345201) Homepage much as I like my old Atari, I will freely admit that TOS was a bit redundant.

      X shouldn't have been on that list (cause it aint gone).

      Win95 shouldn't be on there because it was essentially more of the same crap that preceeded it.

      NT 3.51 would have been a more appropriate thing to put in it's place.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        >>>Win95 shouldn't be on there because it was essentially more of the same crap that preceeded it.

        I disagree. Windows 95 was a major step forward in the IBM PC world. It was their first mouse/icon-based OS that was not a pile of shit. Yes, I'm calling Windows 1, 2 and 3 piles of manure. But Windows 95 was the first time I could sit in front of a PC without grinding my teeth and wishing I was back home on either my Mac or my Amiga.

        If I recall correctly Windows 95 was also the first PC OS that m

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jedidiah (1196)

          > I disagree. Windows 95 was a major step forward in the IBM PC world. It was their first mouse/icon-based OS that was not a pile of shit.

          I disagree that it was anything more than a pile of shit.

          While it was finally what Microsoft promised in 1985, it didn't really cut the mustard by 1995.

          It was still a DOS shell at it's heart.

          XP was what was promised in 1995.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by drsmithy (35869)

            I disagree that it was anything more than a pile of shit.

            Considering the constraints, it was a fairly amazing achievement.

            While it was finally what Microsoft promised in 1985, it didn't really cut the mustard by 1995.

            Microsoft promised a 32-bit, memory protected, pre-emptive multitasking, GUI OS in 1985 ? What were they going to run it on ?

            It was still a DOS shell at it's heart.

            It was not. A "DOS shell" doesn't provide memory protection, pre-emptive multitasking, hardware drivers or a complex comp

  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:17PM (#27344427) Journal

    Poke 53280,0
    Poke 53281,0


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:19PM (#27344457)

    It was great and ahead of its time, but the Amiga was a whole that was greater than the sum of its parts.

    The OS plus the hardware platform of Agnus, Denise, made the Amiga special.

    The OS on its own was less special, even though it was far ahead of the glorified dos shell that windows was.

    • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:11PM (#27345227)

      The hardware was OK by 1991 when it finally got the ability to display 8 bit color with AGA without cheating (yes, before that ECS/OCS Amiga's could only do 32 colours in low res, 16 in high res). Even when Commodore shut down the Amiga could only do 8 bit audio (it was high quality actually, but still only 8 bits). The way the Amiga video chips worked it was neat for platform games, side scrolling games and 2d/3d (animated) video effects and thats about it. Couldn't even do chunky video modes (without chunky 2 planar software routines) which were all the rage when Doom came out. Oh and the independent displays which allowed you to page through them like a notebook (best way I can describe it). Even the built in CIA (complex interface adapter) could only support 19.2k serial speed - 56.6k if you had an AGA machine with an 040. The hardware was OK, but getting dated - even on my A4000 when I got it new in 92.

      The OS was state of the art though - I ran a bbs on a program called CNet [] connected to serial.device. Added another modem to some 4 port serial board called uart.device. Then the internet came along - ran the BBS over the net for a while on a driver called telser.device (it was a telnet modem emulator) - all without ANY modification to the Cnet software what-so-ever and it was cake to setup.

      The OS lacked memory protection and was flakey if processes got out of hand (even then - I do remember using it for hours on end without issues) - still even if it crashed it took 2 seconds to boot - even if I had well over 50+ user started processes in user-startup.

      Don't be fooled though - the real star of the show was the OS, and when I saw it (OS 4) demo'd on a modern machine using commodity hardware it was just as wonderful.

      It wasn't a glorified ms-dos shell - it had real driver support, the OS supported windows, multi-tasking, libraries, it had an SDK and window resizing and scaling (automatically - unlike the Mac at the time) as a few of the hundreds of features all without Workbench (which is the GUI shell pictured in the article).

      >> someone who used an Amiga for well over 8 years.

  • by Samschnooks (1415697) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:19PM (#27344465)
    Oh God! Gotta find an excuse to get rid of the old fogy. No one is creative over 40!

    Um, Unix was insubordinate. Unix was late in its tasks. Unix didn't offer anything to the team - it didn't work well with Windows. Unix refused to take time off - it insisted on working all the time; even when other OSes wanted the time off.Unix is not a team player. Unix refuses to learn new technologies (specifics available one request). Unix made sexual advances to other OSes: tried to "hadnshake" with Windows, "Integrated" with OS X.

    It is my profound conclusion and advice that Unix should be terminated. It is an "out of date" operating system and therefore; contributes to an"out of date" business model.

  • by Zakabog (603757) <john@j m a u> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:20PM (#27344481)

    FTA: "Some of them we tossed carelessly aside. (Adios, Windows Me!)"

    I took great care in building a trebuchet capable of tossing Windows Me far enough from in order to keep it from further damaging my poor, unsuspecting PC.

  • by e9th (652576)
    My first 3 years of programming were spent on CDC 6600s running SCOPE []. You learn a lot about efficient debugging when you're using punched cards and even a short job has a half hour turnaround time.
  • When I started out in the 70's it was the command line, and it really was just a line :-) Punch-cards & paper tape, an acoustic coupler the size of a Mini (car that is)

    Fast forward 30 years....................... It's a bloody command line again.

    One consolation though, my right shoulder doesn't hurt any more :^D
  • Criteria (Score:5, Informative)

    by aviators99 (895782) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:25PM (#27344563) Homepage

    I don't understand the criteria used to select these operating systems to remember. It's mostly consumer OSes, but then they throw in some hobby OSes (plus the bizarre X-Windows, which they admit is not an OS, and I claim is still alive).

    The ones I remember most fondly include:

    Tops-20 (Twenex)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721)

      I have fond memories of OS/9 running on my Tandy CoCo3 with 128mb of RAM. I did some of my first explorations into the world of a pre-emptive multitasking kernel on that critter. It was a damned elegant operating system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Ah... TOPS-20. When men were men, and TECO was the text editor of choice!

    • by hrvatska (790627)
      VM/CMS isn't dead. IBM is still selling it and making money from it. And MVS is still around, buried deep down in zOS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Remember Apollo Domain/OS? That was a really great operating system for it's day (late 80's). It had a security model integrated with the filesystem and was network aware (like LDAP sort of) and the networking filesystem was better than anything I've seen since then.
    • Re:Criteria (Score:5, Informative)

      by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:11PM (#27345237)

      AmigaOS - Still going thank you (Last update September 2008)
      BeOS - Still Going thank you (as Haiku last update... last night)

      The X Window System - Not an operating system, not gone! Could they not find a 10th ...

      VMS - Still going thank you (Now called OpenVMS still in active development)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)

      VMS isn't dead either. It's still supported for VAX, Alpha and Itanium hardware, although you can only buy new Itanium systems running it. Somewhat ironically, the 4-ring protection model introduced with the 80386 was designed to make porting VMS to Intel chips (from VAX) easier. Instead, VMS went to Alpha, which only had two protection modes...

      I still have a soft spot for RMX []. A multitasking, realtime OS that ran on the 8086 (and even the 8080). One of the first programming languages I learned was PL

  • by blahbooboo (839709) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:27PM (#27344589)

    Ah OS/2 an amazing OS in many ways.

    I remember on a Pentium 90 being able to actually WORK in an imaging application, while I was simultaneously both printing a document and copying a floppy disk.

    All current OSes seem to momentarily halt to do one task or another even today.

    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:39PM (#27344743) Homepage Journal

      All current OSes? Try something other than Windows, you might be surprised.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      No joke. I can't understand why intensive disk I/O, with the CPU spiking under 5%, causes windows applications to respond as if a high-priority thread were calculating PI in the background. SMS updates + on-access virus scanning make the whole OS very nearly unusable. Even though it doesn't use almost any real CPU time, if I set the priority to BELOW NORMAL everything running at NORMAL priority is immediately responsive again.

      Is the OS swapping out executable code in deference to having a large data cach

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drsmithy (35869)

      I remember on a Pentium 90 being able to actually WORK in an imaging application, while I was simultaneously both printing a document and copying a floppy disk.

      My NT4 machine handled this fine. Heck, I used to burn CDs (at a blazing 4x on my brand new CD burner) and play Quakeworld at the same time on that baby.

      NT was built to replace OS/2, and it showed. OS/2 was single user, had no SMP support and didn't even have a dynamic disk cache. That's before even getting into the 16 bit HPFS layer and the in

  • by just_another_sean (919159) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:29PM (#27344613) Journal

    The last shot in the picture gallery of X is what a lot of my Debian servers look like. I still love twm. I generally just install it and gvim on a server and it's all the gui I ever need. I simply copy the system.twmrc file to root/.twmrc, add the keyword "RandomPlacement" and change that ugly green color to midnightblue.

    Once I got used to the keyboard shortcuts I find it works really well. Of course on a server I'm generally just running multiple xterms and gvim. Oh and maybe a browser or an Xman page...

    If you ask me, some things never go out of style. ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 0racle (667029)
      X on a server? Heresy I tell you.
      • by just_another_sean (919159) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:41PM (#27344775) Journal

        X on a server? Heresy I tell you.

        I was waiting for that. Yes since about Etch I've decided that's OK to put a minimal X on a server. I finally decided that a graphical browser for googling solutions and multiple xterms are better then lynx and virtual terminals.

        But I respect your opinion and would use a command line (80x25 of course) until death to defend your right to hold it! :-)

        (and hey, no fair, I see your sig!)

    • If you ask me, some things never go out of style. ;-)

      No, it just means you are aesthetically-challenged. twm is just plain ugly. If I were going to use something with minimal footprint, I'd at least want something good to look at such as wm2, ratpoison, or blackbox/fluxbox/openbox

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If you ask me, some things never go out of style. ;-)

        No, it just means you are aesthetically-challenged. twm is just plain ugly. If I were going to use something with minimal footprint, I'd at least want something good to look at such as wm2, ratpoison, or blackbox/fluxbox/openbox

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I've used it forever, I know how to customize it to my liking in five minutes or less and, as I mentioned, I am very familiar with the keyboard use in twm. Could I learn the others if I needed to? Sure, but I'm a function before fashion kind of guy anyway so I don't bother.

        Now. Do you need a hug?

  • DOS 5.0 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cro Magnon (467622) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:31PM (#27344651) Homepage Journal

    IMO, DOS 5.0 was the best OS Microsoft made.

    • Re:DOS 5.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:43PM (#27344805) Homepage

      Ah, the many hours configuring himem ... the multiple memory manager profiles, the keeping straight of incompatibilities between extended and expanded memory, finding the settings that would work with Wing Commander, changing them to work with Star Trek 25th Anniverary ... those were the days.

      The days of grinding awfulness, but days, none the less. It taught me a whole lot about how DOS did business, that's for sure.

  • They get the not really gone part down. But, I mean its still the heart and soul of the majority of *Nix desktop environments for good or bad. And most of the folks using Linux or Solaris or BSD know that it is the case. By the way I still love NeXtstep - what an interface. Great for a lefty like me.
    • by Joe Tie. (567096)
      I wish it could be forgotten. But it seems to be the most significant point of failure in most desktop linux setups.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      It's a bit weird that NeXTSTEP is on the list. It was rebranded OPENSTEP and then Mac OS X, but it's still shipping.

      One of the saddest losses was A/UX, the first UNIX to be suitable for the home user. If Apple had kept developing it after the PowerPC switch then the current OS landscape might be very different. The same is true of Xenix. It's strange to think that both Apple and Microsoft used to sell UNIX systems way back in the '80s.

  • Another good one! (Score:2, Informative)

    by CaptainJeff (731782)
    This was a really good article.

    It comes along at the same time as this one: []

    This article is an amazing summary of 25 pieces of technology (HW, SW, services) that are still around but are (almost) completely forgotten by everyone. Good read.
  • Oh, wait I guess it has been getting internal and external vanity surgery for a long time, and is now know as z/OS. It's still around, but not really what it used to be, but still can't get rid of nasty habits, like JCL and little boys.

    I guess it's kind of sort of like the Michael Jackson of operating systems. Or maybe Doctor Who.

  • by Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:41PM (#27344773)

    A mildly amusing snipe at the end of the article mentions the author missing out on computers that used good-old cassette tape.

    Some of us remember punched cards, the things we had at home were toys with cassette players attached.

    I still think the Z80 and successors were great processors - why did we end up with that piece of shit the 8086?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You do know that the Z80 was just a clone from the same line that spawned the 8086 right?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:48PM (#27344863)

    Windows 3.1
    Windows 3.11
    Windows NT 4.0
    Windows 95
    Windows 98
    Windows 98se
    Windows ME
    Windows 2000
    Windows Vista
    Windows 7

  • by yanyan (302849) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:49PM (#27344877)

    Great site with lots of pics of old OS user interfaces: []

  • ProDOS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pauljlucas (529435) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:49PM (#27344879) Homepage Journal
    I fondly remember ProDOS [] for the Apple //.
  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:50PM (#27344891)

    RIP PalmOS []

  • by cve (181337) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:54PM (#27344935)

    MS BOB was the OS that made computing personal for me.

  • Just shedding a tear for my favorite o/s ever, OS/2. Did what I wanted it to, when I wanted it--and quickly, too. Gone, but not forgotten. . .

    As for left-behind os's, I left Windows behind in 2002 and have never looked back.

  • Where's Microsoft Bob []?
  • by Cordath (581672) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @12:55PM (#27344961)
    While there are lots of little things in this article that indicate the author has never used anything that didn't come out of Cupertino, the one thing that bugged me the most was his willful ignorance of preemptive multi-tasking.

    In preemptive multitasking, the OS gives each application running a time-slice to do their thing and then, typically, takes control and gives the next app it's turn. This means you can put any program you want in the background and it will keep on running. We take this for granted today, but prior to 1995, most users never had this luxury. Amiga was probably the earliest OS to go sort of mainstream that had preemptive multitasking.

    The article says:

    "It wasn't until the late 1990s that Windows NT, OS/2 and the Mac OS were able to multitask as well -- and they required vast hardware resources to do it."

    Wrong. Windows95 had full preemptive multitasking. It didn't have protected memory. That feature would stay in the NT stream until XP. However, mainstream MS users enjoyed preemptive multitasking from 1995 on.

    MacOS, on the other hand, never had preemptive multitasking. Later versions had cooperative multitasking which relied on programs being specially written to support it. However, just one app running without that support was all it took to bring your Mac to a screeching halt. The late 90's were a horrible time to be a Mac user, and Apple's market share declined sharply during this period because of how primitive the last versions of MacOS were compared to everything else on the market. After the return of Jobs in the late 90's, Apple started to turn around by making flashy hardware, colored iMac's, those god-awful puck-mice, etc.. It wasn't until OSX came along that Apple was able to attract (at least some) users more interested in working on their macs than in how they looked.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Reziac (43301) *

      I used to know a guy who ran GeoWorks on his XT, with all of 512k of RAM. It multitasked, I'm not sure by what method, but it could be busy printing invoices in the background while he was surfing the 'net (in textmode) and reading/sending emails, all with no slowdowns or "system busy" lagging. He was still using it for everyday stuff in the mid-1990s.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jedidiah (1196)

      The article says:

      "It wasn't until the late 1990s that Windows NT, OS/2 and the Mac OS were able to multitask as well -- and they required vast hardware resources to do it."

      ...which is absolutely correct.

      Wrong. Windows95 had full preemptive multitasking. It didn't have protected memory. That feature would stay in the NT stream until XP. However, mainstream MS users enjoyed preemptive multitasking from 1995 on.

      ...which doesn't contradict what the "Apple Fanboy" said.

      Plus, Windows95 was still a DOS shell. It was a very flawed implementation of
      "pre-emptive multitasking" so much so that many of us prefered NT at that time.
      Now while it was true that NT was available then, it was still as the author
      described it (required more resources) and was far from a mainstream product
      for consumer use.

      This was a common problem/complaint/hurdle of all of the "serious" PC
      operating systems in the mid 9

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drsmithy (35869)

        Plus, Windows95 was still a DOS shell.

        Windows 95 was a LOT more than "a DOS shell". It handled hardware drivers, memory management, CPU scheduling, user interaction, provided APIs, etc, etc. In fact, it did everything any textbook would consider to define an OS.

  • by hwyhobo (1420503) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:00PM (#27345025)
    Neither article mentions Coherent, a clone of Unix v.7. Their early version could run on lowly pre-386 hardware. They didn't have TCP/IP or virtual memory (until later versions), but they did include C development tools and UUCP.
  • VAX VMS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mrkitty (584915) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:06PM (#27345137) Homepage
    What, no VAX VMS or OpenVMS? People still use it in healthcare systems even though it came out around 1978. How I miss the good old days in the 1990's using a vax/vms in high school and UUCP'ing to send mail out of the building, and using our student BBS authored in DCL.
  • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:13PM (#27345267)

    I had an Amiga for a couple of years when they were popular. Many of my mates had Amigas then too. None of us used them for anything other than games, so we never seen anything beyond the white screen with the hand holding the floppy disc. I keep hearing about how well regarded the AmigaOS was but have never seen screenshots until this article.

  • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp AT Gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:16PM (#27345333) Homepage Journal

    Though I use multiple operating systems today, and like OS X and Linux the best, I gotta say, I miss Windows 95.

    Yes, it was unstable. Yes, it was hyped to the clouds. Yes, it brought nothing new to computing that Mac OS and Amiga hadn't already done. But it was fun. Part of this is because Windows 95 coincided with the Internet really catching on with the public. Dial-up, and then cable, AOL (which, for all its criticisms, made the Internet available to the non-tech public), browsers, email, IRC... all of that was shiny and new back then, and Windows 95 carried it to most of the world. PC gaming really took off with Windows 95. Myst was a revolution. Doom II ate up a lot of my life. Who back then didn't spend many weekends staying up all night, to the breaking sun of dawn, playing games, "surfing the web", and chatting, in AOL rooms or IRC, with people far across the globe in real time? Who wasn't amazed and excited doing these things?

    Guys, that was fun. And I miss those days. I still occasionally run Win 95 in VM just to play something like Hover. And when I do, I remember what it was like to actually enjoy the computer.

      Modern personal computing was really built on what Windows 95 brought to the public. And now computing isn't fun anymore, anymore than, say, using a telephone is. It's ordinary, commonplace, and utilitarian now. Much like flying on a commercial airliner these days. Guys like Charles Lindbergh would be amazed if he could've seen what it was like to fly on a 777. But to us, eh, it's just a way to get from one place to another. And that pretty much sums up the feel of computing today.

    One caviat here; I wasn't a Mac user back then, and I've since had a chance to play with Classic OS on an old iMac, and I gotta say, It was brilliant. It had it's own problems, but I have to admit that now I see what the big deal was. That was a special OS, and after playing with it for a weekend, I was actually overcome with a feeling of sadness at one point, because I realized that all throughout the nineties, I missed out on this. The classic Mac OS really was everything it's fans claimed.

  • Apple ][ OSes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Remloc (1165839) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:29PM (#27345589)
    Ok, we have the PC OSes, of course.
    We have the Amiga OS, ok.
    We have Commodore OSes, ok, if you must.
    We have TRSDOS, ok, for the few who used it.

    Why no DOS 3.3 or ProDos?
  • by amigabill (146897) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @02:09PM (#27346229)

    AmigaOS 4.1 was released in September 2008. Sure, there may be a miniscule number of people still using/buying it in your terms, but it's still here.

  • by Stuntmonkey (557875) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @07:08PM (#27351029)

    I was monkeying around with a C64 emulator the other day, and it struck me how bad those old OSes were. I do have some nostalgia for these things, but more for the times they represented in my life than because I miss the hardware and software. In truth they were mostly cobbled-together messes.

    BeOS is the only one I truly miss, and that is because it had something none of the current OSes have: Low user latency. With the current crop of OSes we take it for granted that:

    • machines take minutes to boot,
    • applications take tens of seconds to launch and quit,
    • opening or changing a filesystem view takes a second or longer,
    • applications can completely freeze out the user for tens of seconds at a time (like when a browser can't connect, or when Mac OS X can't find a disk volume it thinks should be there),
    • all user actions are accompanied by delays, even ones that would be trivial to avoid with prefetching or caching

    What I miss about BeOS was the whole design aesthetic of putting the user first, never blocking user input, and making the common use cases fast.

On a paper submitted by a physicist colleague: "This isn't right. This isn't even wrong." -- Wolfgang Pauli