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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UCSD p-System

When the processor chip wars between Motorola, Texas Instruments and Intel started, the p-System came along to allow applications to run on a virtual machine regardless of the hardware. It brought windows out at the same time as Microsoft Windows and was a nice multitasking system. -- Roman Diaz

UCSD p-System -- a fallen hero though never truly made mainstream. May you virtualize forever in your slumber. -- JohnJ


Long before the PC took over the desktop, IT (OK, we were DP) staffers relied on minis and mainframes -- and the IBM System/3, /32, /34 and /36 used the SSP to keep things humming. Those babies were everywhere in the pre-PC world. -- Mike K

SSP from the S/36: With a little time and effort, you could learn everything about the OS and accomplish incredible things. Moreover, if you chose not to learn anything about SSP, it would just sit there and run. Truly the best of both worlds! -- Anonymous


What, no mention of RT-11 and RSX? They pretty much ruled all research labs in the '70s. RT-11 even had my favorite help message ever. If you typed in "help <command name>" and no help was available, it typically responded "There is no help for <command name>." If you typed in "help me" it would respond "There is no help for you." Some programmer spent way too much time at his terminal! -- Anon E Mouse

The RSX-11M operating system from DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) and the PDP-11 architecture could do an amazing amount on a 16-bit machine. It was probably the last system I worked on where each and every senior programmer knew all of the features of the OS. -- Anonymous


With 512K of RAM we ran 24 terminal users, with an in-house BASIC program that accessed a d/b over DECnet. RSTS/E rocks! -- Anonymous


Data General's RDOS (Real-Time Disk Operating System) was so good you could run a dozen (or more) terminals simultaneously with 32K of memory! -- Anonymous

I remember RDOS from years ago. The command line prompt was... an "R." I always thought that they could have been a little more creative with the prompt. -- Anonymous


I loved TRS-DOS. Started using it at the age of 10. It was well thought out, as were all the programs written to run on it. -- Andy


You are but children for you know not the most advanced OS for its time, the Burroughs Master Control Program (MCP). Available in the mid-1960s, this OS would run on a 120KB, 1MHz system. It could run up to 10 programs simultaneously, organize and manage virtual memory for each, and allocate system resources dynamically, without the need for JCL. -- Stan B


As long as you want to go down memory lane to the '60s, I have one word for you: Multics. Multics changed the landscape of operating system technology. Fifty years later, hardly anybody has heard of it (except for us old fogeys), but everybody's heard of protection rings, segmentation, paging, virtual memory, DLLs, ACLs, preemptive multitasking, hot swapping, hierarchical file systems, links, multiprocessing... -- davewa


I loved the TOPS-20 command-line completion and prompting. You could type in part of a command and hit the Escape key, and it would complete the command and prompt for the first option. If you typed in a wild card and hit another key (too many years ago to remember), it would list the file names that satisfied that wild card. -- David


KRONOS was the sweet 1971 operating system for the 60-bit CDC 6400 number crunchers. You could log in using a 110-baud teletype and run Basic (and Fortran!) programs. Somewhere inside the operating system was something called Chippewa Falls Notation -- you needed to know this in order to decode the inevitable crash dump. Eventually, KRONOS gave way to CDC Network Operating System. -- Anonymous

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