Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

July 1997

The WarpGuru
OS/2 Hardware Review
VOICE Board Member Interview

The WarpGuru - The Past of OS/2

This article is a little longer than most I will write for the VOICE
Newsletter, but I believe that it is important to understand a little of
the history of OS/2 to understand where we are today in the operating
system arena. A historical perspective is also prerequisite to understanding
the differences between and similarities among the operating systems and
environments available today.

So bear with my while I rehash the past and prepare for the future.

In the Beginning DOS - 1981

In 1981 when the original IBM Personal Computer was announced, IBM released
three operating systems for it. How many of you remember that? Since I
wrote the first IBM course on how to fix this original PC, I had to know at
least a little about all three of them.

IBM decided early in the development process of the PC that they did not
want to hire a bunch of programmers to write software for it - especially
an operating system. IBM wanted the hardware business and did not care
about the software. Since there was no clear-cut contender for an operating
system at the time, IBM approached three organizations about writing one
for the PC.

IBM first approached Digital Research and asked them to create a version of
CP/M (Control Program/Microcomputer). The owner of DR snubbed the IBM
lawyers and went flying or golfing (depending upon whose story you hear)

IBM then turned to Microsoft. Bill Gates was very receptive to the IBM
overture and also had information about an operating system which had
already been written that would fill IBM's need very nicely. Gates said yes
to IBM, bought the operating system called DOS for $20,000 and modified it
somewhat to run on the IBM PC.

For you trivia buffs, the other OS delivered with the original PC was the
UCSB P-System (University of Southern California at Berkely Pseudo code
System). I will permit those who make a living from documenting the history
of computers to describe that operating system elsewhere.

Incorrect Assumptions

I suppose we all know what assumptions can do for us. IBM made some
interesting assumptions about the original PC in 1981; or rather, Don
Estridge and his very autonomous development team did.

I was in a meeting with Estridge and a number of other people in April of
1981, when I first was assigned to write the IBM education for the PC. It
was stated at this meeting that IBM expected to sell about 275,000 Personal
Computers - over a five year product life. in fact, IBM sold almost that
many on August 11, the day before the official announcement. IBM held a
preannouncement showing of the PC in Toronto at the annual ComputerLand
Dealers of North America conference. ComputerLand dealers placed orders for
nearly 250,000 computers that day. On August 12, IBM took orders for almost
250,000 more Personal Computers. IBM's planners have not been correct

At the same meeting the target environment for the PC was described. Here
are some of the assumptions made then.

Small business would buy most PCs.
Large business would stick with mainframes and dumb terminals.
A few departments in large businesses would use PCs for local,
non-connected work.
The PC would be used for one task only. Not just one task at a time, but
a single task all day long. This might be a spreadsheet, or word
processing, or accounting, but no more than one task would be performed
all day.

Based on these assumptions, the operating system was specified to be single
tasking. Besides, although the hardware was far more powerful than anything
else available in the microcomputer market at the time, it just was not
powerful enough to warrant the extra load that multitasking would place on

As we all know, DOS became the OS of choice for the Personal Computer. In
part, this was due to its significantly lower price when compared to the
other operating system choices then available for the PC.

The Problem

As soon as I bought my original PC ($5,000 for Intel 8088, 4.77 MHz, 96 KB
RAM, monochrome display adapter and display, 80 CPS dot matrix printer) I
ran into The Problem.

I was writing a letter in EasyWriter and needed to make a calculation so I
could use the result in the letter. Why should I get out a $10 calculator
when I have a $5000 one sitting here? Of course in order to use it as a
calculator, I have to save my document, close EasyWriter, reboot to another
diskette with the calculator program on it (which I wrote myself in BASIC),
do the calculation, write down the answer, reboot to the diskette with
EasyWriter, load the document, and type in the figure from the paper.

We needed multitasking already.

A couple smart companies like Borland came out with Terminate and Stay
Resident (TSR) programs like Sidekick which allowed you to switch to them
by pressing a special key combination. Sidekick had the calculator as well
as a calendar, notepad, schedule, and other little utilities which we all

The TSR became a circumvention for the lack of intrinsic multitasking in
DOS and the PC.

The PC AT - 1984

In 1984, IBM introduced the PC-AT which was the first (IBM) PC to use the
new Intel 80286 processor. The 80286 was designed by Intel with support for
multitasking built into it. IBM made a promise to its customers that they
would provide a multitasking operating system for the PC-AT. IBM keeps its
promises, unlike Microsoft.

The PC-AT was supposed to be able to do multitasking, and some IBM
publicity photos even showed it connected to two dumb terminals. IBM had
contracted Microsoft to create the first multitasking OS for the PC, but
Bill Gates really did not want to do this for the 80286 processor. He
publicly called the 80286 "brain dead" and constantly attempted to turn IBM
away from creating OS/2 for the 80286 and to jump instead to the 80386
which was then under development at Intel.

Most people don't know this, even many IBMers who should, but IBM has a
series of internal documents called Corporate Directives. Corporate
Directive number 2, signed by Thomas J. Watson Jr. in 1956, states that
when IBM makes a promise to its customers it will keep that promise "...
regardless of the cost." It was on this basis that IBM pressured Microsoft
to continue work on OS/2 1.00.

At this time, the IBM PC was the responsibility of Entry Systems Division
(ESD). ESD was also working closely with Microsoft to produce OS/2. During
this time, Microsoft was also working on the first versions of Windows, and
IBM was working on a product called TopView which was a DOS add-on that
allowed text mode multitasking. Most people do not remember TopView, but it
was a good product and I used it between 1994 and 1997 when OS/2 1.00 was

OS/2 1.00 - 1987

Released in December, 1987, OS/2 1.00 was the first ever operating system
for the Personal Computer to provide intrinsic multitasking based on
hardware support. It was text mode only and allowed only one program to be
on the screen at a time, even though other programs could be running in the
background. It also allowed one very limited session in which DOS programs
could be run. The maximum disk size supported was 32 MB.

Note: All 1.x versions of OS/2 were designed specifically to run on 80286
systems, but they were capable of running on 80386 systems as well.

OS/2 1.10 SE - 1988

In October, 1988, IBM released OS/2 1.10 Standard Edition (SE). SE 1.10
added a graphical user interface (GUI) to OS/2. This GUI, called
Presentation Manager (PM), allowed users to interact with the operating
system in a more friendly manner than the command line interface provided.

Unfortunately the PM required a very large learning curve on the part of
programmers. When programmers became proficient they found that PM, and the
rest of the OS/2 APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), were very
powerful and quite efficient.

Support for large FAT hard drives was included in this version. By
dividing large physical drives into multiple logical hard drives, up to 2
GB drives could be supported.

OS/2 1.10 EE - 1989

When IBM announced OS/2 1.10 SE, they also announced OS/2 1.20 EE (Extended
Edition). This product, released in early 1989 included Database Manager
and Communications Manager.

Database Manager was (and is) a multitasking relational database with a
great deal of power.

Communications Manager provided IBM mainframe and midrange customers with
multiple 3270 and 5250 emulation sessions. It also contained a really bad
asynchronous communications program.

OS/2 1.20 - 1989

Released in November 1989, OS/2 1.20 (SE and EE) offered an improved
Presentation Manager. Available with OS/2 1.2 EE for the first time was the
High Performance File System (HPFS). HPFS is much more efficient and faster
than FAT. HPFS also offers much greater data integrity.

REXX also appeared for the first time in OS/2 1.20 Extended Edition. REXX
is a very powerful interpretive programming language which can be used for
writing a complete application or as an extended batch language. I use REXX
quite frequently to write everything from quick and dirty programs to do
something one time, to very large, sophisticated programs which I use

Work had also begun on two new OS/2 products. Work on OS/2 2.0 was well
underway. This product would be the first true 32 bit operating system for
personal computers. Designed to work on the Intel 80386 and its follow on
processors which were still in development, OS/2 2.00 would no longer be
compatible with the 80286 processor.

OS/2 3.0 was in the very early stages of development and was intended at
the time to be a network server version of the operating system. It was
also intended to be platform independent. Because the operating system
would be built on top of a microkernel, it would not need to be aware of
the type of hardware on which it was running and therefore could run on
Intel processors as well as Motorola, SUN, and DEC, chips with only a
change of the microkernel hardware abstraction layer.

1990 - The Schism

In 1990, IBM and Microsoft were still working together on the development
of OS/2. Microsoft, however, had found that Windows 3.0 - released in May
1990 - generated more revenue for them and therefore allotted increasingly
more resource to Windows and correspondingly less to OS/2.

By late 1990, Microsoft had intensified its disagreements with IBM to the
point where IBM decided that it would have to take some overt action to
ensure that OS/2 development continued at a reasonable pace. IBM,
therefore, took over complete development responsibility for OS/2 1.x, even
though it was in its dying days, and OS/2 2.00. Microsoft would continue
development on Windows and OS/2 3.00. Shortly after this split, Microsoft
renamed OS/2 V3 to Windows NT.

OS/2 1.30 - 1991

OS/2 1.30 (SE and EE) was the first version which was written entirely by
IBM. There was still some Microsoft code in it - that would not go away for
a couple years yet - but all of the new code and a good portion of the
existing code for OS/2 1.30 was written by IBM. As a result, OS/2 1.30 was
smaller and faster than previous versions, more stable, and there were far
more device drivers available, though still not nearly enough.

It has never ceased to amaze me that Microsoft could write code for Windows
which was (relative to OS/2 1.1 and 1.2) easy to use and for which there
were plenty of device drivers. Take the process required to install and
configure a printer. Under Windows it was a simple two step process. Under
OS/2 1.2 it required the user to perform unnatural acts:

Install the device drivers.
Set up a printer queue.
Create a printer object.
Associate the device driver with the printer object.
Associate the print queue with the printer object.
Set up the COM port configuration for a serial printer.
Use the SPOOL command to redirect printer output to the desired port.
Specify optional printer settings.

No wonder people thought OS/2 was difficult! In my opinion, Microsoft was
intentionally making OS/2 as difficult to use as possible - or the
programmers they had assigned to write OS/2 were the stupid ones. I still
have a copy of the three page article I wrote for what was then OS/2 and
Windows Magazine (it later became Windows magazine and never had any
relationship to the late, lamented OS/2 Magazine) describing in detail the
steps required to install and configure a printer under OS/2 1.20.

With IBM writing OS/2 1.30, the printer installation became much easier, as
did much of the installation and configuration. IBM completely rewrote the
Print Manager in order to achieve this. It was not great yet, but it was
incomparably better than it had been.

OS/2 1.30 added some other important new or improved features.

REXX was added to the SE version. It had previously only been available
with EE.
Adobe Type I type fonts. (It was shortly after this that Microsoft began
development of TrueType fonts. Interesting!)
New, more easily readable fonts for the command prompt sessions.
Lazy Write was added to the HPFS file system.
The swapping algorithm was improved considerably to enhance performance.
Video device drivers were enhanced to include high resolutions up to

OS/2 2.00 - 1992

OS/2 2.00 was released in the spring of 1992. The first true 32 bit
operating system for personal computers (and for years the only one) it met
IBM's stated goal of being a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than
Windows. It did this through the use of Virtual DOS Machines (VDMs) which
allowed OS/2 to run many DOS (and Windows) programs at the same time as
though they were on completely separate computers. As far as the DOS
programs were concerned, they actually were in separate computers. Windows
programs run on IBM's licensed version of Windows 3.1 called Win-OS/2.

Because of this separation of DOS programs from each other, one Windows
(remember - Windows is a DOS program) program which crashes can not crash
any other Windows program. By placing Windows programs which do not play
well together in Windows sessions in different VDMs, they can both run
without interfering with each other. In addition the programs can still
communicate through Dynamic Data Exchange and the clipboard.

The Workplace Shell (WPS) was also introduced in OS/2 2.00. The Workplace
Shell is an object oriented user interface (OOUI). The IBM WPS takes the
GUI to the next generation by integrating it much more fully with the rest
of the operating system, including the file system.

OS/2 2.10 - 1993

In May of 1993, IBM released OS/2 2.10. This version sported a new, faster,
fully 32 bit graphics subsystem, TrueType fonts for Win-OS/2 sessions, and
Multimedia Presentation Manager (MMPM/2) which provided sound and video
multimedia capabilities.

PCMCIA support for laptop computers also made its debut with OS/2 2.10,
along with Advanced Power Management (APM). OS/2 could work with laptop
computers with an APM BIOS to reduce power consumption and extend battery
life. PCMCIA support was crude and supported only a very few computers and
PCMCIA credit card adapters.

To reduce the price of OS/2 for users who already had Windows on their
computers, IBM released OS/2 2.11 for Windows in late 1993. This version
of OS.2 did not have Win-OS/2 and, instead, relied upon the copy of Windows
3.1 already installed on the computer to allow OS/2 to run Windows
programs. It did this by making some minor modifications to the Windows
SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI files, and hooking the Windows 3.1 code once it was
loaded into memory so that OS/2 could control the Windows 3.1 code in the

OS/2 Warp - 1994

OS/2 Warp Version 3 made its debut in October 1994 as OS/2 Warp for
Windows. Like OS/2 2.11 for Windows, it did not contain IBM's Win-OS/2 code
and relied on Windows 3.1 to run Windows programs. OS/2 Warp 3 with full
Win-OS/2 support became available a short time later.

Warp 3 was designed to install and run on a computer with only 4MB of RAM
and it did. Performance was tolerable, but adding more RAM improved
performance considerably. Additional device drivers made Warp 3 capable of
running with the vast majority of personal computers and peripherals on the
market. The Workplace Shell was improved significantly in terms of both its
functionality and performance. Print performance, PCMCIA support, and
multimedia support were all enhanced significantly.

TCP/IP and Internet communications were also added to Warp 3. The Internet
Access Kit (IAK) provided a complete package to enable Warp users to log on
and surf the net. The Web Explorer allowed users access to the World Wide
Web, although it was neither as feature rich nor as flexible as the
industry leader, NetScape. Text mode and graphical FTP applications allowed
file transfer. Ultimail Lite gave users e-mail, but Ultimail is cumbersome,
slow, and very difficult to configure.

Unlike previous versions of OS/2, Warp shipped with a BonusPak CD-ROM which
contained several OS/2 applications. IBM Works is a set of integrated
applications including a spreadsheet, word processor, database, report
generator, and charting program.

Warp Connect

Released in 1995, Warp Connect combines all of the features of Warp 3 with
network connectivity and tools. Warp Connect Peer functions allow client
workstations to share resources such as files, printers, and modems with
other users on a network. LAN Server 4.0 and Netware requesters allow
access to the most popular network server environments.

Warp Server

In early 1996 IBM released Warp Server. This landmark product combines the
power and functionality of Warp 3 with the network server capabilities of
IBM's LAN Server 4.0 product. With some relatively minor fixes to the LAN
Server product, and the addition of many previously separate products, Warp
Server is the leading server environment.

Warp Server includes many features which would cost extra with other server
operating systems. OS/2 Warp Server delivers an integrated platform for the
emerging application server environment as well as a complete set of
traditional file and print services. Warp Server provides an integrated
packaging of OS/2 Warp, LAN Server 4.0 (with some enhancements and fixes),
SystemView for OS/2, remote access, advanced backup disaster and recovery,
and a new printing capability that allows, among other things, printing
postscript files on non-postscript printers.

OS/2 Warp 4 - 1996

Warp 4, code named Merlin, was released in September of 1996 with a
significant facelift for the Workplace Shell. New features include Java,
and VoiceType Navigation and Dictation.

Warp 4 is called the "Universal Client" by IBM because of its unparalleled
network connectivity.

Connect to anything, anywhere with a universal network client which
allows simultaneous connectivity to LAN Server, Warp Server, Windows NT
Server, Novell Netware, Netware Directory Services, PCLAN Program,
IPX-SPX, LANtastic for DOS or OS/2, Warp Connect, Windows NT
Workstation, Windows 95, Windows for Workgroups, TCP/IP (including DHCP,
Java is built into Warp 4 so you need no additional software to run
powerful and easy Java applications locally or right from the World Wide
VoiceType speech recognition makes Warp 4 the only operating system in
the world to allow voice navigation and dictation with no additional
WarpGuides provide intelligent self-configurable guidance for common
tasks. Ideal for new users or users new to OS/2.
Internet aware desktop allows one-click access to your favorite web
TME 10 Netfinity (SystemView) for exceptional systems management,
including DMI (Desktop Management Interface) support.
Remote Access Services (LAN Distance) for remote access capabilities
which allow you to access your network from home or the road. Remote
Access Services can also allow adhoc WAN configuration for temporary or
emergency use.
Mobile Office Services allows the Road Warrior to keep files
synchronized with the office.

The Future...

Now that we have set the stage, next month I will talk about the future of
OS/2 - As I see it.

Author biography:

David P. Both is president and founder of Millennium Technology, Inc., a
computer consulting firm in Raleigh, North Carolina which specializes in
OS/2 Warp, OS/2 Warp Server and related products, and Lotus Notes. He
spent the last eight of his 21 years with IBM as the lead support person
for OS/2. He is co-author of the book Inside OS/2 Warp, New Riders
Publishing, 1995, and has published articles in Windows and OS/2 Magazine,
Carolina Computer News, LAN Magazine, OS/2 Magazine, and others. He holds
nine IBM technical certifications and is and Premier IBM Business Partner.
Mr Both's email is and the Millennium web
site is

OS/2 Hardware Review

By: Nigel J. Clarke

I recently was in the market for a new sound card as my old PAS16, while
serviceable, doesn't cut it any longer. After a thorough investigation
of the sound card market, aided by Rod Smith's Sound Card page, I decided
to opt for a card with a Crystal Semiconductor chipset. Knowing the
problems experienced by users with cards having the FM synthesis support
(Soundblaster/SB Pro support) provided by an Opti chipset I avoided
any with that combination sticking with the CS4236 which has a built-in
FM synthesiser.

In the end I selected an MSC 32 Wave PnP card by AdLib Multimedia of
Quebec. Unfortunately they did not at the time have a US distributor
lined up although they are strong in European markets. I purchased the
card through a Canadian store by mail order and received it a couple of
weeks later (I'm in Bermuda which makes it hard to obtain stuff
sometimes). The card cost me CDN$99.95 which came out to ~US$54.

The card is a nicely made unit with a cd containing drivers for DOS,
Win3.1, W95, WinNT and OS/2. The drivers are version 1.60 and the
later 1.65 drivers are available from Crystal Semiconductors home page.

The card slipped in to an ISA slot and my PnP motherboard picked it up
correctly. Windows 95 also picked it up and I installed the drivers
without problems.

Under OS/2 the driver install is the easiest I have done for a piece of
hardware. Using the instructions with the driver I started the
Multimedia Application Install program and selected the MPU401 driver
in addition to the Crystal Audio and FM synthesis. The install completed
and not only added the CS drivers under OS/2, but the Win-OS/2 drivers as

The only hiccup was the need to force the parameters (/o) for the card
settings as the PnP part of OS/2 doesn't seem to properly PnP with my
motherboard's PnP BIOS.

The latest drivers support full duplex for internet phone apps. Wave
table support is enabled by use of the MPU401 port on the card. The
Windows drivers are OS/2 aware and negotiate with OS/2 for use of the
hardware on the card.

Other considerations
The CD-Audio cable connector is a 4 pin MPC compatible unit or a
Panasonic type. My existing cable, that fits my Toshiba 5701 SCSI
CD ROM, doesn't deliver Red Book Audio through the card although it
did on the PAS16. I suspect that the 3 connected pins on the cable
are not correct for the MPC connector on the card.

Game support
DOS games work fine with the card (I tried three or four) when
selecting the AdLib Gold or SB Pro option for sound effects and
the Roland MPU401 option for music.

Hope this is of use to anyone thinking about a sound card and not
wishing to be at the mercy of Creative Labs.

Author: Nigel J. Clarke <>

Interviews with the VOICE Board

In our continuing series of interviews with the people who make up VOICE, we now interview Tom Nadeau (OS2HQ), VOICE Marketing Director:

VOICE> How long have you used OS/2?

Tom> I started toying with 2.0 in spring of 1994, and standardized on 2.1 as
soon as it arrived. I've been using OS/2 versions ever since then, and
I'm currently using Warp 4. I almost never revert to DOS now.

VOICE> How do you currently use OS/2?

Tom> I do all my Internet and faxing from OS/2, and also play a few games
like Links and the OS/2 2.1 Reversi, plus a few old DOS games. I still
have not decided which OS/2 apps to use for my other activities and so I
still use DOS apps for them. I run maybe one or two Windows apps. I'm
planning to jump heavily into REXX and Java application writing one of
these days.

VOICE> What is your background in computers?

Tom> I got my first XT in 1987 and I've been on a nonstop upgrade binge since
then. I'm using a Cyrix P166 with 32MB RAM right now. I spend 6 years
at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in California, using a 286 to remote-control
audio test equipment for an FAA switching system, then 6 years running
my own PC business -- preloading OS/2 since 1994, of course. Then I
left to look for work leveraging my OS/2 knowledge more effectively.

VOICE> What other OS/2-computer related activities are you involved
with right now?

Tom> Besides VOICE activities and a presentation at Warpstock, I'm planning
to participate in next spring's Second Annual OS/2 Marketplace
Convention in Phoenix. I'm planning a stealth marketing campaign for
Comdex and next year's OS/2 Version 5 rollout -- just in case we can get
some momentum. I'm hoping that Warpstock is a springboard to get
momentum behind this kind of grassroots activity. VOICE can be a great
resource to channel this energetic OS/2 support and help apply it
constructively to market OS/2 and OS/2-related products. And besides
those things, I of course promote and preload OS/2 at the computer store
where I'm currently working!

VOICE> How did you get involved with VOICE?

Tom> After meeting folks like David Both at the OS/2 Marketplace last spring
in Phoenix, a small group of us just starting migrating together, drawn
by our common interest in marketing OS/2 to the consumer desktop market.

VOICE> What does the Marketing Director of VOICE' do?

Tom> I'm sort of a "brainstorming machine" and I like to bounce my ideas --
some whacky and some very sensible -- off the dynamic crew that comprise
the VOICE team. I also act as a "filter" for other people's ideas,
trying to find the right balance between gung-ho OS/2 enthusiasm versus
calm, rational explanation. I try to keep out of the management issues
and just focus on lighting fires under people.

Tom> By the way, I think this interview idea is great. We should get to know
each other in the OS/2 community as more than just "that guy with all
the funny taglines" or "the lady who always says something nice."

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