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Why is an Operating System important?

An operating system is the most crucial functionality element of a computer as it is a collection of all software that makes the hardware work smoothly. It is the linking cog between the hardware and computer's various programs. Every device has an operating system be it cellphones, video game consoles, supercomputers or web servers.

If the current generation of tech savvy teens are asked about operating systems, they would surely name Android, iOS , some Windows and the geekiest of geeks probably could come up with a Linux. Well that's the perimeter of workable operating systems for us.

Arguably Android and iOS are the power grabbers in the battle of smartphones. However, these two OS were not always the top guns. There were many other real operating systems that were teaming up to compete with Apple and Microsoft.

Let's take a look at some of the lost treasures from the world of operating systems.

1. AmigaOS


Launched in 1985 by Commodore International, it an operating system of the Amiga PC that was popular in those days. With its multitasking GUI and embedded custom chips besides a 4 channel stereo sound system, it was way ahead of the raging Macintosh PCs that reigned the markets. It is believed that AmigaOS was a cause of worry to Steve Jobs who had just begun his tech journey.

2. BeOS


Another operating system for PCs, it was developed by Be Inc in 1991. Basically designed to optimize digital media functions, it was to run AT&T's Hobbit-based hardware and later anticipated to be bought by Apple. Jean-Louis Gassee, Be's CEO was offered $15 million by Apple but after negotiations it marked the comeback of Steve Jobs into the industry as Apple's directors chose NeXTSTEP over Be. Despite its commercial failure, Be Inc subsequently invested itself in developing open and free source software, thus keeping the Operating System from a total death.

3. OS/2


Expanded as Operating System/2, it represented the parallels of IBM's second-generation Personal Computers. OS/2 was technically a joint venture between Microsoft and IBM, with the later taking control of development eventually. With the success of Windows 3 the partnership broke down in 1990. While IBM no longer markets this OS, it is still functional on many ATMs currently.

4. RISC OS


An operating system developed in 1987 by Cambridge based Acorn Computers Ltd, RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computing. It was designed to function on ARM chipset, also a Acorn product that was used basically in the Archimedes PCs. The parent company broke down in 1998 to be renamed as Element 14. The licenses have since then changed many hands and attempts to upgrade its software and products.

5. Inferno


Started by Bell Labs in 1995, it is the successor of Plan 9 with similar design concepts and source code. Currently under the control of Vita Nuova Holdings, Inferno is an open source software that acts as a virtual operating system that is designed to run native hardware as well as a user program with another OS. For this, a communications protocol called Styx is applied that allows all basic file reading operations to happen.

6. XTS-400

Released in 2003 by BAE Systems, it is a multitasking hardware-cum STOP (Secure Trusted Operating Program) based operating system. Used in high level security set ups, it's best feature is its cross-domain solutions i.e. it can be used on desktop, server or networks thereby making it a premier information security application. It is still a highly used OS by companies into military and defense technologies.

7. Palm/ Garnet OS


A mobile operating system, developed by Jeff Hawkins of Palm Inc in 1996. It was designed for smooth functioning of touchscreen devices such as smartphones, wrist watches, gaming consoles, bar code readers, GPS devices etc. It is configured with basic applications for personal information management. By 2003 Palm went independent and was renamed as Palm Source. In 2005 it was taken over by ACCESS yet retaining the licensed operating rights.

8. Symbian


Nokia's popularity was at one time totally based on this operating system. Others like Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson too use this and was rated as the most popular OS till 2010, when Nokia abandoned it for Microsoft's Windows Phone OS. The Symbian was outsourced by Nokia to the Accenture Group whereby 2800 Nokia employees were absorbed into the new controlling firm for providing software development and support services to Nokia.

9. MS-DOS


A staple of IBM PCs well unto the 1990s, MS-DOS's specific version called as 86-DOS was first bought by Microsoft from Seattle Computer Products in 1981. Developed in eight versions, MS-DOS development was stopped in 2000.

Which of these Operating Systems do you know of or have used? Tell us about your user experiences in the comments section below.

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