Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Just For Fun...

OS/2Warp running in VirtualBox
When I started graduate school in June 1994, I showed up having used Win3.1 and AOL for dial-up.  While in grad school, I began using Sparc systems running SunOS (web browser was Netscape), which is what was available in the curriculum I was in.  I also got to interact and engage with a lot of other now-historical stuff, and over time, I've had passing feelings of sentimentality and nostalgia.

After I arrived in CA, I was shown PPP/SLIP dial-up for Windows systems, and was fascinated with the configuration and use, mostly because now, I was one of the cool kids.  For a while, I dabbled with the idea of a dual degree (EE/CS, never committed to it) and came in pretty close contact with folks from the CS department.  As it turned out, there were more than a few folks in the CS department who were interested in OS/2, including one of the professors who had a program that would sort and optimize the boot-up sequence for OS/2 so that it would load and run faster.

Also, it didn't hurt that I attended grad school was not far from Silicon Valley, the center of the universe for tech coolness at the time.  In fact, the EE curriculum had a class each summer called "hot chips" where we studied the latest in microprocessor technology, and corresponded with the "Hot Chips" conference in San Jose.  The class was taught by Prof. F. Terman, the son of the other Fred Terman.

While I was in grad school, I was eventually introduced to OS/2.  I purchased a copy of OS/2 2.1 at Frye's Electronics (in SunnyVale, next to Weird Stuff), specifically because the box came with a sticker/coupon for $15 off of OS/2 Warp 3.0.  I enjoyed working with OS/2 at the time; I could dial into my local ISP (Garlique.com at the time), connect to the school systems, and run multiple instances of MatLab programs I'd written as part of a course.  I could then either connect later and collect the output, or simply have it available when I arrived at the school. 

I had no idea at the time, but for the first four months or so that I was at NPS, I walked by Gary Kildall's office almost every day.  I never did get to see CP/M in action, but anyone who's ever used MS-DOS has interacted with a shadow of what CP/M once was and was intended to be.

While I was in grad school, I had two courses in assembly language programming, both based on the Motorola 68000, the microprocessor used in Amiga systems.  I never owned an Amiga as a kid, but while I was in grad school, there was someone in a nearby town who ran a BBS based on Amiga, and after grad school, I did see an Amiga system at a church yard sale. 

While I was in the Monterey/Carmel area of California, I also became peripherally aware of such oddities of the tech world as BeOS and NeXT.

Looking back on all this, I was active duty military at the time, and could not have afforded to pull together the various bits and pieces to lay the foundation for a future museum.  Also, for anyone familiar with the system the military uses to move service members between duty stations, this likely would not have survived (ah, the stories...).  However, thanks to virtualization systems such as VirtualBox, you can now pull together a museum-on-a-hard-drive, by either downloading the virtual images, or collecting the necessary materials and installing them yourself.  As you can see from the image in this post, I found an OS/2Warp VB image available online.  I don't do much with it, but I do remember that the web browser was the first one I encountered that would let you select an image in a web page and drag it to your desktop.  At the time, that was some pretty cool stuff!

Resources (links to instructions, not all include images or ISO files)
VirtualBox BeOS R5
VirtualBox Haiku (inspired by BeOS) images (there's also a Plan 9 image...just sayin'...)
NeXT in VirtualBox: NeXTSTEP, stuffjasondoes
Virtually Fun - CPM/86
VirtualBox Amiga


Matt said...

I really thought OS/2 was going to make it. I remember all the Windows vs. OS/2 debates on the BBS's in those days. I seem to recall that there were even ATM's in Europe that were still running it 10 years or so ago? Thanks for the jog down memory lane!

Harlan Carvey said...

The reason I thought OS/2 was going to make it was because not only was it technologically superior to Windows at the time, but Howard Stern talked about it on his show. Apparently, someone had set him up with it, and I would hear him talk about it during my hour drive in...