Forgotten Operating Systems

It’s a story as old as Amiga.

Desperate to own the platform, Motorola is busy hiring up ex-Apple and Adobe engineers in an effort to build the next great Web-based mobile operating system.

InformationWeek reports:

 

Over the past nine months, Motorola has been hiring engineering talent that would well-suited to create a new mobile operating system.

Its team appears to include a significant number of ex-Apple and Adobe personnel, including Gilles Drieu, VP of software engineering at Motorola Mobility, Benoit Marchant, director of engineering at Motorola Mobility, and Sean Kranzberg, also a director of engineering at Motorola Mobility.

 

Motorola is, of course, not the first company desperate to offer an operating system to rival Microsoft and Apple.

Google is actually working on two operating systems: Android for mobile and Chrome for netbooks.

In fact, there’s a long history of defunct or ignored operating systems for Motorola to pick through.

We’ve collected just a few here.

Many of these operating systems were plenty innovative in their time.

Where they each ran into trouble was either struggling to sell to anybody other than a few early adopters, or failing to evolve as their businesses changed.

AmigaOS

Year created: 1985

Company: Commodore

What happened? Ars Technica put it best when in 2005, it wrote: 'The Amiga computer was a machine ahead of its time. When it was released in 1985, its colour screen (4096 colours in HAM mode!), four-channel sampled stereo sound, preemptive multitasking GUI, and custom chips to accelerate both sound and graphics made the year-old Macintosh seem antiquated and the PC positively Paleolithic. Steve Jobs was reported to be extremely worried about the Amiga, but fortunately for him and Apple, Commodore had absolutely no idea what they were doing.'

BeOS

Year created: 1991

Company: Be Inc.

What happened? Apple offered to buy Be Inc for $125 million in 1995, but CEO Jean-Louis Gassée wanted $200 million. Apple bought Steve Jobs's NeXT instead, and Palm acquired the company's assets for $11 million in 2001.

OS/2

Year created: 1985

Company: IBM

What happened? Microsoft and IBM joined to create OS/2 in 1985, but when Windows 3 became a huge hit, the partnership unravelled in 1990. Though no longer supported by IBM, the operating system still runs on many ATMs today.

Arthur

Year created: 1987

Company: Acorn Computers Ltd

What happened? Developed in five months, Arthur was supposed to be a short-term scab, but it stuck around until the RISC OS was developed in 1989. That operating system is still in use, but we don't know anyone who uses it.

Desktop Linux

Year created: ~1996

Company: Linux desktops are open source.

What happened? 2010 is almost certain to be the year of desktop Linux. Just like 2009. And 2008. And…

Inferno (operating system)

Year created: 1996

Company: Bell Labs

What happened? It's an open source operating system, so there are versions of it still out there. But they don't work above the basement floor.

XTS-400

Year created: 1992

Company: BAE Systems

What happened? Valued for their security, this operating system and its successors are still used in military technology.

Palm OS (also known as Garnet OS)

Year created: 1996

Company: Palm Inc.

What happened? In 2002, Palm spun the OS out as its own company. Innovation pretty much ended there and what was once a very strong pioneering OS for PDAs, couldn't keep up when it came to the Web and multimedia.

UIQ (formerly known as User Interface Quartz)

Year created: 1998

Company: Ericsson

What happened? UIQ went into bankruptcy this year after the Symbian Foundation chose to base future user-interfaces on the S60 OS.

BONUS: As Android grows more powerful, Google is likely to eventually abandon Chrome, its OS for laptops

That's what old operating systems looked like. But what about Apple's next one?

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