Was choosing DR for TOS really good solution ?

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Fuji Shaped Bastard
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Was choosing DR for TOS really good solution ?

Post by AtariZoll »

After some discussions about TOS, experiences with it, disassembling TOS 1.04, then reading here some conspiracy theories, wild assumptions, then watching silly movie 'Pirates of SiliconValley' and some comment of it, and other things, I started to think about: was Digital Research really best choice for Atari GUI OS ? Actually, was there any other, serious alternative around 1984 ?
We know that MicroSoft dominated PC OS market, but DR did his concurrent OS - and there was GEM for PC too. There was competition, and DR lost in battle for PC main OS. There was Apple on other side, with first not too expensive GUI machine - Macintosh. Indeed, Jack Tramiel wanted to be serious competition for both platforms. But success was only partial, and not for long time period. In USA it never sold well. Best was in Germany. How much of low success is to blame on DR ? I remember demolishing reviews in magazines about first 520ST, with TOS from floppy. They described it as almost useless - TOS and Basic ate almost all 512KB RAM, and only some 10 KB left free. That self, and very poor DR Basic could be counted as fiasco of TOS. Fortunately, there was some SW already available, so users could do something - playing and some simpler serious SW. Then came ROM TOS era, with new problems - 1.00 was slow in many things. 1.02 took too much low RAM. 1.04 was decent, but it was about 1989 (4 years later) . Then change of ROM address, then TOS 2.06 known for not being much compatible. And so on. Until DR was so so ready with multitasking, Atari was out of business.

Because above, I tend to think that DR was not good choice actually . Some more details are in EmuTOS thread.

Considering conspiracy theories, like what would be if Bill Gates did not buy that QDOS, or would be charged - here is one: Gary Killdall should only call police when Bill Gates 'renamed' pirated QDOS (as copy of CPM for X86) and then whole computer history would be totally different.
Actually, the whole Pirates movie was on that level - Apple saw some mouse GUI prototype at Xerox, so they stole it - how the Hell ? Getting idea is easy, making it to work is enormous task + needs lot of money.
I don't think that DR had any chance against MS - they were just slow, and not so good in offering what users wanted. I don't want to say that MS should do TOS - and they would not do it most likely, maybe only for some extra high price. And it wouldn't be that good for sure. Best things at MS were done by other companies (like Windows NT). And maybe here lies the answer - some of such, less known company could be better candidate for TOS.
Famous Schrodinger's cat hypothetical experiment says that cat is dead or alive until we open box and see condition of poor animal, which deserved better logic. Cat is always in some certain state - regardless from is observer able or not to see what the state is.
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Re: Was choosing DR for TOS really good solution ?

Post by simonsunnyboy »

I think it is quite simple. Atari was looking for a GUi to use in a timespan of about 6-9 months back in 1984.
DR had one almost ready, GEM, while Microsoft could not deliver. I am pretty sure the Tramiels did not bother to try getting Mac OS instead.

Finally there was no other solution available in the desired timeframe and they wanted their product to be ready for 1985. So they went with some incomplete and maybe not even fully functional OS.

I think it was the best choice they could make in 1984/1985 but surely Atari would have had to insist way more on getting bugs fixed and thrown out for later releases.

DR actually had multitasking in 1985/1986 but Atari was on their own branch of DR related software at that point. They didn't attempt to join forces.

Choosing DR was a starting point for Atari's own good. And they maybe didn'T make the best out of it. For me for 1984/85 it was a sensible choice.
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Frank B
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Re: Was choosing DR for TOS really good solution ?

Post by Frank B »

I think building a complete computer platform from scratch in 6 months is a herculean achievement. You can bet that the engineers working there were the best in the world.
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