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How old are operating systems?
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-01 23:09:59

Today, it hit me that iOS is already ten years old. I consider iOS a relatively new and fresh operating system, but can we really say that at ten years old? In order to figure that out, I quickly threw together a little graph to visualise the age of both current and deprecated operating systems to get a better look at the age of operating systems.

It counts operating system age in terms of years from initial public release (excluding beta or preview releases) to the last release (in case of deprecated operating systems) or until today (in case of operating systems still in active development). I've included mainly popular, successful, consumer-oriented operating systems, leaving out more server or embedded oriented operating systems (such as UNIX and QNX), which tend to have vastly different needs and development cycles.

As far as the nomenclature goes, Windows 9x includes everything from Windows 1.0 to Windows ME, and Mac OS covers System 1 through Mac OS 9.2.2. Windows CE is currently called Windows Embedded Compact, but its line also includes Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, and Windows PocketPC.

Red indicates the operating system is no longer being developed, whereas green means it's still under active development. The only question mark in this regard is Windows CE; its latest release is Embedded Compact 2013 in 2013, and while I think it's still in development, I'm not entirely sure.

This graph isn't a scientifically accurate, well-researched, quotable piece of information - it takes many shortcuts and brushes several questions aside for brevity's sake. For instance, looking at the last official release doesn't always make sense, such as with Windows Service Packs or Mac OS X point releases, and I haven't even been entirely consistent with these anyway.

On top of that, the graph doesn't take months or weeks into account, and just counts everything in terms of years. Linux shouldn't technically be included at all (since it's just a kernel), and you can conceivably argue that, for instance, Mac OS X is older than its initial release in the form of 10.0 since it's so heavily based on NEXTSTEP. Amiga OS is also a bit of a stretch, since its development pace is slow and has even died down completely on several occasions. You could maybe possibly argue that BeOS is still in active development in the form of Haiku, but I consider Haiku a reimplementation, and not a continuation.

In any event, I originally wasn't planning on doing anything with this, but I figured I might as well publish it here since it's an interesting overview.

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RE[5]: Some large inacuracies
By judgen on 2017-08-02 20:14:49
Thank you sir. That is and was my point.

Not that i need anyone agreeing with me for it to be correct, as Sagan said "It just is"
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RE[3]: Some large inacuracies
By judgen on 2017-08-02 20:16:50
Windows 1.* and 2* was a dos executive and not a gui. (especially true with 1.0) as you could not move the windows. It was more like a skinned dos prompt.
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RE[2]: Nice idea, but it is too hard to set good criteria ...
By judgen on 2017-08-02 20:21:02
Bill Mac Ewen held back amiga development several years, for what? An UAE emulator for phones that worked less well than e-uae (amiga anywhere) and fucking amiga shirts that was never delivered.

He sold over 1000 shirts with the checkmark logo that was never delivered, and when people wanted a refund he was gone.
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RE[2]: FreeDOS missing
By Drumhellar on 2017-08-02 20:34:08
FreeDOS is widely used, though.

The same can't be said about ReactOS or Haiku
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RE[2]: FreeDOS missing
By Kancept on 2017-08-02 20:36:29
We can't really include OS/2, as it technically isn't being developed anymore. The current incarnation is still the same WSeB core from 1999 w/ updates that go to 2002 and changes to USB stacks and such. All IBM does is keep milking that kernel so others can bundle and (re)sell it to others (like me).
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RE[2]: FreeDOS missing
By sarreq on 2017-08-02 20:39:38
DOS, as developed as a clone of CP|M in QDOS, then evolved into MS-DOS, is only actively developed in the FreeDOS project. There were, and I'm sure still are, many other DOSes which have absolutely no relation to CP|M/QDOS/86-DOS/PC-DOS/MS- DOS/DR-DOS/FreeDOS.

Just because it's called DOS, doesn't mean it's what we're talking about.

IBM was the earliest with DOS/360, released in 1966, it was a subset of OS/360 for the System/360 (I'm seeing a trend here) mainframe. DOS/360 was used on lower end S/360s, which had a disk drive. There was also TOS/360, for tape drives, and BOS/360 for even lower spec S/360s with no storage at all.

Apple had AppleDOS and ProDOS underneath Apple// Basic.

Commodore had CBM-DOS, which was baked into their floppy drives, and talked to the main system's Basic in a networking fashion.

AtariDOS was a software layer to provide high level access to diskettes, but it was not the primary OS.

Amstrad used AMSDOS.
The ZX Spectrum used GDOS and G+DOS.

None of these are compatible with the DRI/MS/IBM DOS ancestral line you're familiar with.

You may run into Datalight ROM-DOS, which is specifically designed to be version compatible with particular versions of MS-DOS, but it's not developed beyond maybe fitting it onto newer EEPROMs.

If you really want to be completionist, CP|M (Control Program|Monitor or Control Program for Microcomputers) was "inspired" by DEC TOPS-10 (Total Operating System-10), and written in Gary Kildall's own PL|M (Programming Language for Microcomputers). I don't know how deep that "inspiration" went, I've never used either.
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RE[2]: Years are messed up??
By sarreq on 2017-08-02 20:41:07
QDOS (Quick and Dirty OS) was the original name. It was changed to reflect the stodgy nature of IBM.
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RE[6]: Years are messed up??
By jal_ on 2017-08-02 20:57:36
I quoted the criteria Thom used. It doesn't count because Thom says it doesn't count. God, either you are a troll or really thick...
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RE: Years are messed up??
By sarreq on 2017-08-02 20:58:47
this isn't a list of how old each OS is, it's a list of how long each OS was developed. MS-DOS was born in 1981 with MS/PC-DOS 1.0 and ended development in 2000 with Windows ME. 19 years.
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RE[4]: Some large inacuracies
By Drumhellar on 2017-08-02 21:04:12
> Novell Netware otoh, only used dos during boot after which dos was terminated and removed entirely from the system, unlike win9x/me which merely partially bypasses dos.

Windows 9x does mostly the same thing as Netware. The only significant difference, though, is that Windows also absorbs the DOS environment, since it still needs to provide DOS-compatible virtual machines. That's what the DOS prompt is in 9x, afterall - a DOS virtual machine. (Actually 16-bit Windows apps ran in a virtual machine, too, but it was one virtual machine for all applications)

The only other function DOS had in Windows 95 was to provide the 16-bit driver layer. If you weren't using DOS drivers for your hardware - say, you had a Windows95 sound driver instead of a Windows 3.1 or DOS driver, then DOS wasn't used at all.

In fact, even applications that used software interrupts for DOS system functions rather than the Windows API - say, int 21h for filesystem functions - those were still handled by Windows, unless there were any DOS-specific TSRs loaded that needed to work.

Edited 2017-08-02 21:08 UTC
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