Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 19th Jul 2005 03:36 UTC, submitted by her friend Brad
OS/2 and eComStation In the dawn of the end of IBM's OS/2 Stardock's CEO Brad Wardell pays his respects to the venerable operating system by writing a long article about the history of the OS. Stardock was one of the major third party software houses for OS/2 back in the day and so Brad has lived OS/2 from up close.
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@jeffb
by deathshadow on Tue 19th Jul 2005 18:14 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

and how were my dates off?

So the fact is that when OS/2 2.0 came out the 486 was already a fairly common processor (though the 386 more heavily used).

That's like saying Xeons have been out for almost three years so it's a common enough processor... It is and it isn't. Having sold units at the time I can (to the best of my memory) say for a good degree of certanty 486's didn't start really going out the door until '93. Just because the chip came out in '89 doesn't mean anyone was making boards to support them... Even IBM wasn't shipping 486 based machines until November 1990... They were selling PS/2's as their entire product line until 1993 when they 'downscaled' to the PS/1's.

I mean hell, look at IBM's 1992 'new product' line... Their 'best' machine, the PS/2 Server 295 (aka IBM 8600) was a 486SX/50 with 8 megs of RAM stock. The big model they were pushing that year, the model 75 came in five flavors, all of them a 386-20 (either SX or DX depending on the model) and was pretty much a repack of the 1989 Model 70...

What was even funnier about that timeframe is they were making better portables than they did desktops (something that held right through Thinkpad history), again showing how the different divisions never really walked in step with each-other. The PS/2 Model 75 was a ratrap 386-20... the PS/2 Model P75 was a wonderful (if expensive) 486DX-33 lunchbox with a 16 shade orange plasma and a 160meg SCSI drive.

Of course in that timeframe IBM Model Numbers got worse than Tandy 1000's. (Pick two letters, that's the new model)

As to the Operating System side of things

6/92 -- OS/2 2.0
01 March 1992 - Windows 3.1

THREE MONTHS, Bravo Foxtrot Delta! I feel it's safe to call them contemporaries to each-other... In fact a head to head comparison is what this whole thing is REALLY about. Being able to run "The same applications" as a cheaper solution was no way to sell a more expensive product, and there was no software just for OS/2 that would wow enough of the target audience to justify buying it.

The two work together, before Windows 3.1 you could either spend a fortune on the hardware to support OS/2 to do what? Have pretty graphics and still run your DOS applications? The only software 90% of the customers who could AFFORD PC's at the time (That other 10% being hobbyists and gamers who like now will float their house to buy bleeding edge) consisted of Wordperfect, 123, Quattro and Harvard Graphics... All of which were single tasking DOS programs that ran just fine on a 386SX-16 with ONE meg of RAM. IT WAS A HARD SELL getting business buyers into the GUI market, something people seem to have forgotten...

And the applications that did it were Word and Excel under Windows 3.x and the introduction of the "Office Suite" concept... What did OS/2 offer for that 'killer app'? The same versions of the same software, but you had to drop more money than you'd spend on an engagement ring to run it half as well?

Reply Score: 1

RE: @jeffb
by rcsteiner on Tue 19th Jul 2005 19:24 in reply to "@jeffb"
rcsteiner Member since:
2005-07-12

OS/2 2.0 and Windows 3.1 were contemporaries (and head to head competitors) for roughly a year, and then OS/2 2.1 closed the API compatability gap until Microsoft started their rather infamous Win32s-of-the-month club (making the Windows API a constantly changing target).

Being able to run "The same applications" as a cheaper solution was no way to sell a more expensive product, and there was no software just for OS/2 that would wow enough of the target audience to justify buying it.

The "upgrade" prices for OS/2 2.0 for any DOS or Windows user were US$99 and US$49 respectively. That's it. Hardly "an engagement ring" in terms of cost, and no more expensive than the typical price for Windows 3.1 at the time.

To me, admittedly a hobbyist who was heavily into BBSes and online message networks like Fido and RIME, it was well worth fifty bucks if only to be able to run two DOS programs reliably at the same time.

As you well know, the serial drivers for DOS programs under Windows totally sucked -- trying to do a 14.4kbps or faster download was a royal pain. However, Telemate or Telix running in a VDM was as smooth as silk, and I could use a filemanager and SLMR in other VDMs at the same time with no impact at all on the way they ran.

Was it worth $50 at the time to upgrade? Heck yes!!

[i]And the applications that did it were Word and Excel under Windows 3.x and the introduction of the "Office Suite" concept... What did OS/2 offer for that 'killer app'?[i]

Those weren't killer apps for hobbyists, and business users can write stuff like that off. For me, the bit that sold OS/2 was the multitasking. (I'd already been sold on GUIs based on my experience with PC/GEOS and the GeoWorks Ensemble suite somewhat earlier).

In time, both StarOffice and Lotus SmartSuite became available and were good compatitors against MS Office, but I don't remember the timeframe. Tools like DeScribe were also around, but Lennane priced it so high that it wasn't all that popular until he released its Voyager Edition much later.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: @jeffb
by deathshadow on Tue 19th Jul 2005 20:15 in reply to "RE: @jeffb"
deathshadow Member since:
2005-07-12

>> The "upgrade" prices for OS/2 2.0 for any DOS or Windows user were US$99 and US$49 respectively. That's it. Hardly "an engagement ring" in terms of cost, and no more expensive than the typical price for Windows 3.1 at the time.

Sure, but look at the hardware gap between the two. I was NOT referring to the cost of the software. I was referring to the cost of RAM, the larger disk footprint, and it generally needed a faster processor to even approach the same speeds... That {censored} costs MONEY... Money few businessmen (who WERE the lions share of sales at the time) would spend.

Oh, and I'm definately with you on that edit thing... a quote button that copied post text with actual quote tags would be handy too... (But I'm WAY spoiled using SMF for... well... 'most every site forums I've set up the past year)

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: @jeffb
by jeffb on Wed 20th Jul 2005 01:20 in reply to "@jeffb"
jeffb Member since:
2005-07-19

hat's like saying Xeons have been out for almost three years so it's a common enough processor... It is and it isn't. Having sold units at the time I can (to the best of my memory) say for a good degree of certanty 486's didn't start really going out the door until '93. Just because the chip came out in '89 doesn't mean anyone was making boards to support them... Even IBM wasn't shipping 486 based machines until November 1990... They were selling PS/2's as their entire product line until 1993 when they 'downscaled' to the PS/1's.

PS/2 model 70-486 came out in 1990
PS/2 model 90 (486-DX) came out in 1990
PS/2 model 95 (496-DX) came out in 1991

As for PS/1's and 2's I think you are forgetting the Ambra line in 1992/3 as well as their more generic line (I've forgotten the name). Further it wasn't just IBM by 1990 you had clone makers that were pretty active.

As for the dates of the operating systems you seen to be agreeing with my dates. The argument is what were the hardware standards. You need to show that memory was uncommon. Now lets take the 8590 for example http://www.can.ibm.com/helpware/8590.html. This supported 8 sockets with up to 8 megs per socket. Thus a standard reasonable config for this system would likely have been 8x4=32 megs of ram. No quesion this was an expensive computer but you are the one who is focusing on the PS/2 line.

Reply Parent Score: 1