The OS That Time Forgot

The war over control of our handsets is still waging however some may say that only iOS and Android are going to make it through the other side. This is not a new thing OS wars are as old as computing. Have you heard of a PC operating system known as Amiga? This was Commodore's attempt to break out of the 8bit mould in the late 80s. It was for a time the most popular PC in Western Europe. Other defunct and or forgotten PC OS from times gone by are Arthur, Inferno, Plan 9 and Wombat OS. Even the valiantly soldering on Ubuntu is somewhat of a niche player, not on the radar of most PC buyers. Lets have a look at the OS that time forgot

Amiga OS

Year created: 1985 Company: Commodore The Amiga computer was ahead of its time in 1985, its colour monitor, 4096 colours, four-channel stereo sound, multitasking GUI, and custom chips to upgrade sound and graphics. It should have humbled both the Macintosh the PC. However they never managed to market the Amiga with any degree of success in the US and it was eventually surpassed by later developments from Apple and Microsoft.


Year created: 1991 Company: Be Inc. Apple offered to buy Be Inc. for $125 million in 1995, but the CEO wanted $200 million. It sounds cheap for a tech acquisition today but  Apple went on to buy Steve Jobs's NeXT instead. This was a real missed opportunity for Be Inc and they never fulfilled their potential as a mass OS. Palm bought Be Inc's assets for $11 million in 2001. BeOS could be considered the postman-granddaddy of later Apple OS as its clear open design and focus on multimedia have clearly left their mark on later products.


Year created: 1985 Company: IBM What happened? You have used OS/2 even if you don't know it.IBM teamed up with Microsoft to develop OS/2 in 1985. However the success of Windows 3 made the partnership untenable and they fell out in 1990. OS/2 still runs on many ATMs around the world. Similarities to windows 3 are striking.


Year created: 1987 Company: Acorn Computers Ltd Arthur was supposed to be a stop gap OS but it has soldiered on to the present day, finding itself in all sorts of places. A number of shareware and OEM software bundles on the like of HP PC use it and a developed form of the OS is at work in the Raspberry Pi mini computer.


Year created: 1992 Company: BAE Systems Developed to be super secure, the XTS -400 has been developed to this day for defence applications and weapons systems and is broadly compatible with Linux.Valued for their security, this operating system and its successors are still used in military technology.

Palm OS

Year created: 1996 Company: Palm Inc. Palm had a massive lead on the touch applications for mobile OS game in and in 2002 Palm spun the OS out as its own company. However they missed the boat with connectivity and multimedia, one of the greatest cases of so close yet so far. Palm smartphones were still broadly competitive in 2007. AS WebOS, it was bought by HP in 2009 and was considered a promising iOS alternative but it has never managed to gain market share. It is now open source.

What Next?

Blackberry appears moribund and Microsoft has repeatedly failed to capture a significant share of the mobile market. Windows Mobile shouldn't be around very long with the departure of Steve Ballmer ushering new product teams. I predict a new approach to mobile from Windows in the near future. Nokia surely has little choice but to adopt Android?

Insights by Matthew Jensen

Share this post