Eulogy for an Old Friend
turbotodd 100000388Y Comment (1) Visits (1231)
"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly." Such were the words of inspirational author Richard Bach.
And such are the words I would choose to characterize the passing of my old and dear friend, OS/2. Born in 1987 out of the need to be able to do more than one thing on the personal computer at once, OS/2 -- more commonly known by his close friends as "Warp" -- was for many years the darling of our extended operating system family here at IBM. Known by friends and family alike to be capable of juggling dozens of complex, multithreaded applications with true preemptive multitasking, OS/2 had the unique ability to recover from the most severe application failures, at a time when so often in such circumstances the only real option was to hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE.
I remember with great fondness how so many of us within IBM worked to reintroduce our good buddy "Warp" to the wider world in 1994 at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas. I'll never forget with beaming pride at seeing Warp's name spread across everything from large Jumbotron screens to coffee mugs, as those of us in IBM who had helped raise and nurture him from birth worked diligently to explain to the busy Comdex hoards why OS/2 was the only real industrial-strength 32-bit operating system, and why he could be counted on to help you run your business through thick and thin.
Although OS/2 had a warm, visually appealing exterior, those who knew him best recognize that beauty is only skin deep, and it was Warp's underlying interior and depth that really distinguished him from other, less sophisticated operating systems. His object-oriented composure and underlying System Object Model (SOM) made OS/2 one of those friends you knew you could depend on. With OS/2, if you dragged an object icon across the desktop, you knew SOM would track the movement and record the object's new position. In short, OS/2 always did what he said he was going to do. You could count on him like you couldn't count on anybody else.
OS/2 probably exerted his most significant influence behind the scenes, particularly in financial institutions. Chances are, if you ever used an automated teller machine, you encountered OS/2 firsthand -- whether you realized it or not. He also helped numerous other industries, and ultimately had a diverse career with global impact.
OS/2 is survived by several family members, including two brothers, Unix and Linux, with the latter expected to take over some of his older brother's former responsibilities.