LB: I actually started out with FVWM on FreeBSD 2.0.5 around the same time, right about when most of the world was clamoring over the Windows 95 RTM.

I got the computer I was running it on in early August, just before the release, so it came with OS/2 Warp (!), DOS and Windows 3.1.


I don't know if I've ever gone on about Warp here, but it was one of those evolutionary dead ends that's still interesting nonetheless.

See, back in the late 1980s, Microsoft and IBM wanted to replace MS-DOS with something different, and MS even had an experimental multitasking DOS available in Europe at the time.

But, at the end of the day, it was still DOS, and it had all of DOS's warts (poor memory management being the worst of it).

OS/2 was announced with the PS/2 line in April of 1987 (happy 32nd!), and released to manufacturing in early 1988. It was meant from the start to be "a better DOS than DOS", with things like built-in multitasking, a proper user/supervisor divide, multithreading, and (coming soon) its own GUI called Presentation Manager.

But for the longest time, it was simply a curiosity, only meant for developers and die-hard IBM fans. It required a beefier system than DOS did (and keep in mind that turbo XT systems from the early 1980s were viable into the mid-1990s running DOS!), and quite a bit more memory and disk space (both of which were expensive in 1988, and IBM's premium pricing for the PS/2 didn't help).

Even worse, OS/2 1.x's support for DOS was notoriously terrible. Applications had to be "well behaved" (i.e. written like CP/M applications) or they wouldn't work. People got into the habit of calling it the "penalty box".

IBM and MS eventually came up with something called the Family API, a subset of the real OS/2 API that allowed the same program to run in DOS and OS/2 without getting sent to the box in the latter.

And then when the Presentation Manager was released, its API was different enough from the Windows API that people complained. (This was long enough ago that Windows *3.0* wasn't even out yet!)

All this pretty much happened in relative secrecy unless you read the trade papers closely. IBM and MS had a roadmap for OS/2, and were aware of the problems and were working on them.

OS/2 2.0 was going to be the OS/2 everyone wanted in the first place. 80286 support, a major sticking point for OS/2 1.x, was dropped, and DOS support was improved substantially.

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