OS/2 leads readers' favorite OSs of yesteryear

Also acclaimed: VAX/VMS, DR-DOS, Atari TOS and more. Oh, the memories!

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It has to be VMS (Virtual Memory System) running on the VAX (Virtual Address eXtended) hardware from DEC (Digital Equipment Corp.). It was a multi-user, multiprocessing virtual memory-based OS designed for use in time sharing, batch processing and real-time computing. It ran in megs of memory, not gigs. -- Anonymous

VAX/VMS was a wonderful OS. I used to run a statewide network using a VAX/VMS system over analog lines using multiplexors. Primitive in this day and age, but one good systems manager could control a network with, in my case, two thousand users. Pretty remarkable. -- Anonymous

The very best business-oriented OS was VMS from Digital. I wish someone was able to move that to the desktop and servers instead of the endless stream of Unix clones. -- Anonymous

VAX/VMS: a real OS with all kinds of great things like a versioning file system, great control over running processes, DETACH/ATTACH, and clustering long before other vendors got the drift on that! You could measure the uptime of a VAX cluster in years, not days or months. -- Anonymous

VMS is the one OS I miss the most. Programming on a VAX was a joy. This was an OS that was designed by programmers for programmers, and it showed. -- Anonymous

I read all my e-mail in VMS up until it was pulled out from under us here last November. The tears are still not dry. -- BobBentBike

CP/M and MP/M

My favorite OS was, of course, CP/M, because it ran WordStar. This made the Apple II+ with a language card and CP/M better than IBM's dedicated 8086-based word processing stations for two or three critical years circa 1982. I've seen jaws drop in IBM sales circles when confronted with souped-up Apples. -- grikdog

I remember the thrill of using MP/M, which was the multi-computer version of CP/M in the early '80s. Who knew these little guys could work together? -- Dave L

CP/M was the best hacker OS. It was the most common OS used on S-100 bus systems. The card bus was standardized, but the processor, memory and I/O cards you mixed in could be anything from anyone. Sure, there were binary versions of CP/M and MP/M for common CPU cards. But the OS was really just a specification, a line in the sand.

You simply implemented all the defined calls in the OS specification to implement your own version of the OS on your own CPU or I/O cards. Programs compiled or assembled for your chosen CPU chip would then run just fine on top of your OS using your own I/O cards to any device you wanted to support.

I was part of a team that used MP/M, the multiprocessor version of CP/M, to build a system to run Michigan's online lottery with over 100 processors. Thousands of transactions a minute, millions per day, and multiply redundant to achieve 100% uptime for over a year. -- bgspence


Digital Research DOS, or DR-DOS, was stable and the task switcher worked as advertised. It also had as standard almost all of the "DOS enhancer" TSRs that PC Magazine was pushing as needed to improve MS-DOS -- e.g., two-column or five-column directory displays, XDEL with a "/O" switch to overwrite what you were deleting, MOVE to move files or directories between directories or drives without having to return and delete the old stuff, and much more. And it ran Win 3.1 without crashing on a regular basis. -- ChuckL

DR-DOS is my favorite. I had 486s running DR-DOS with Weitek numeric processors and they ran the pants off everybody else. DR-DOS was DOS done right. -- Anonymous

I think I still have some copies of DR-DOS lying around. I remember that whatever the current version of MS-DOS was, the current version of DR-DOS already had the features of the next version of MS-DOS. Microsoft was always the copycat. -- Ken Jennings

Back in the pre-Windows days, I was a major proponent of DR-DOS. It worked, as opposed to its counterpart from Redmond. The best advertisement DR-DOS ever had was MS-DOS 4.0. -- Dave

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