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Oh BeOS. One of the best promises that failed to succeed.



BeOS was really amazing. You could encode video from two video capture cards at the same time on a 600Mhz P3. You could turn off a processor in a multi-cpu system.

Be realized they couldn't compete with Windows, so they wanted to sell dual-boot boxes. But the Microsoft EULA for OEMs banned that (similar to OHA and Google not allowing Google-Android manufactures to create Amazon-Fire products).


> Be realized they couldn't compete with Windows

Crazy as it sounds BeOS wouldn't run on X86 for the first few years. They were trying to capture away Apple people. Also it was close to being the OS X successor, but Apple walked away when BeOS upped the price.

https://www.wired.com/2015/05/os-almost-made-apple-entirely-...

PS The only desktop OS that could pull off this stunt. Play a bunch of videos and music files and unplug the computer. Boot back up and everything is playing again just as you left it.


Interestingly it wasn't initially targeted at the PowerPC (let alone the PowerMac), the original BeBox prototypes used 2 AT&T ATT92010 Hobbit processors and 3 AT&T DSP3210 DSPs.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110806044928/http://www.bebox....


I always thought of BeOS as basically a reboot of the NeXT. Same niche, same promise, same flop ;-(. BeOS was later so they avoided the H/W side-road. A good thing.


No, it was a different niche, different promise and only one of them flopped (after all NeXTSTEP lives on as macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS, etc)

NeXTSTEP was Steve Jobs' attempt to build an OS that fulfilled the promise of what he saw during his visit to PARC (as opposed to just the graphical interface which is what was implemented with the Mac). It was a true-multi-user Unix with a beautiful UI and an object-oriented framework that was far more influential than its marketshare would have suggested (it led to Microsoft starting Cairo, IBM building WorkplaceOS, and Apple/IBM sinking fortunes and thousands of man-hours into Taligent/Pink).

BeOS was Jean-Louis Gasse's attempt to build a successor to the Mac (including Quicktime which came after Jobs) but built to be multiprocessor and SMT (symmetric multitasking) friendly from the start. It was --like the Mac-- a single-user OS but intended to extract all the performance possible from "modern hardware"

ACCESS Co. the current owner of the PalmOS and BeOS assets basically frittered away whatever potential BeOS had. So it definitely flopped.


They didn't - BEOS was first launched only for their own line of hardware, the BeBox - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BeBox


Didn't know that. The numbers sold are tiny.


Technologically it didn't flop, nor did Amiga. Inferior technology won in the 90s.


> You could turn off a processor in a multi-cpu system.

I saw a BeOS demo of turning off processors. The GUI allowed you to uncheck all the processor checkboxes and the machine goes dead. :)


I loved the sense of humor in the API as well.

int32 is_computer_on(); //Returns 1 if the computer is on. If the computer isn't on, the value returned by this function is undefined.

double is_computer_on_fire(); //Returns the temperature of the motherboard if the computer is currently on fire. If the computer isn't on fire, the function returns some other value.


It really was. IIRC, I remember installing it from a floppy (was there a CD too? My memory is fuzzy) on a Pentium based computer in the late 90s (R4 maybe... I think the floppy is buried in a box in my basement).

I was amazed that back then I could have four (!) windows open playing videos (albeit at low res) at the same time without hiccups -- doing it Windows 95 on the same box would choke it up.


But some are still trying to keep it alive: https://www.haiku-os.org/


I know. So brilliant. Still remember the first demo I saw. Just floored me.




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