Digital Research Inc. (DRI) - 16-bit

This document copyright Herbert R. Johnson 2011. Updated Oct 12 2011.
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Digital Research and CP/M ownership: history, links and status

What is Digital Research, and CP/M?

Gary Kildall's operating system called CP/M is at least 30 years old as of 2006, based on a 1976 announcement and discussion of it in a new but popular computer magazine called "Dr. Dobb's Journal". Dr. Kildall and his company, Digital Research Inc., sold CP/M and subsequent operating systems and development tools into the 1990's, until the company was acquired by a series of other companies. On another page we describe on that page the beginnings of Kildall, DRI and CP/M in the early 1970's. On yet another page, we briefly describe the earliest 8-bit OS products of DRI in the mid and late 1970's, and list there some original documents and disks I have for many DRI products.

This page describes DRI history of the 1990's and later, and a few late products and derivatives. DRI assets went through a number of companies after Digital Research was sold to Novell in the 1990's. This page describes that history, from the 1990's through to the present day, via the links below. Most recently (as of 2007), DRI assets are owned by DrDOS Inc. with Brian Sparks as CEO. However, there is also an "open source" version of DR-DOS released by a previous owner, Caldera Systems, as "Caldera Open DOS" (see below for Web links).

The earliest versions of CP/M are available for personal use under license by Sparks at the "unofficial CP/M Web site" of Gaby Chaudry as described below. Later DRI products, as referenced on this page, are not included in the license from Sparks. DRDOS Inc. continues to offer some DRI-based products through the present day. DRI-derived commercial OS products include GEM, a graphics interface; REAL/32, a descendent of DRI "concurrent" OS's. Finally, there are some "open source" derivatives (or from-scratch alternatives) of DR-DOS available; and a few compatible OS's written from scratch. I've followed some of this subsequent history on this page, at the links below.

  • Digital Research corporate history in summary
  • DRI work in the 1980's.
  • Owners of DRI property in the 1990's: OpenDOS appears
  • Corporate history of CP/M, 1999 to date

    Details of DRI assets in the 21st century:

  • The endless CP/M saga, 2002-2006
  • 2005-6: FreeDOS, OpenDOS and DRDOS 8 (RIP)

  • DRI descendent products (or not) today:
  • FreeDOS, OpenDOS todayh
  • the status of REAL/32, a DRI descendent
  • the status of GEM, a DRI descendent
  • DOS-286, Flex OS, IBM 4690

    Updates to any information on this page are welcome; we have many links to sites which may go "dark" so keep us posted! - Herb Johnson

    Digital Research, CP/M and the "unofficial CP/M web site"

    The unofficial CP/M web site is an on-line archive of the earliest CP/M products, for the 8080 and 8086 processor. (We describe the earliest CP/M products on another page.) Since Jan 2001 CP/M original material has been hosted at http://www.cpm.z80.de. In the 1990's, Tim Olmstead was instrumental in obtaining permission from the owners of CP/M, to allow Tim to archive and freely distribute that material. Many Digital Research CP/M products were accumulated and archived by Tim Olmstead with the permission of Caldera's CEO Brian Sparks, but Tim was not otherwise affiliated with Caldera. He gathered the code from various hobbyists and enthusiasts - Caldera never had all the original material - and Tim put it up on his site. However, shortly after Sept 11th 2001 his CP/M section was shut down, when Tim Olmstead died of cancer on that date and his license likewise ended. Subsequently, as of Oct 22 2001, the Lineo Inc. (and later DR-DOS Inc.) CEO Brian Sparks provided another license to Gaby's site, to continue access to that material. Since that time, that material is maintained by Gaby Chaudry on her CP/M archive Web site, and mirrored eleswhere.

    Digital Research corporate history in summary

    For the earliest history of Digital Research, check my page at this link.

    DRI work in the 1980's.

    Other sites cover the various DRI OS products of the 1980's, before DRI was bought by Novell. DRI developed multiple tasking, and "windowed" versions of its operating system for 16-bit versions of the 8086. But I'll put some interesting bits of history here as I find them.

    Later work notwithstanding, DRI continued to offer CP/M-86 products in the 1980's. A notible product line was for the MSX standard computers which came out of Japan. Check this document of mine for some references.

    Found this DR-DOS post in the Club Dr-DOS's guestbook recently, from March 2006. The site may also be known as "Dr-DOS-Wiki". There is a substantial "history" section at the site as well, mostly on 1990's development.

    Geoff Sheehan — 13 March 2006, 23:28: "I just read the Wikipedia entry for DR-DOS and its history and somehow I think the dates could be slightly wrong. DR-DOS was an outflow of a development project I ran between Wang Australia and DRI (UK) in 1988. I arrived in the UK to run the project in June 1988 and we completed our development of a true Concurrent DOS 286 in Feb 1989 (It wasn't Concurrent CP/M with a DOS emulator). DR-DOS, if I remember rightly, appeared after we completed our development. DRI didn't do any development for us per se, instead they consulted with us. The major developer was a company called TCL based in Cwmbran in Wales who did the main OS development, and NDL who did all the networking products (Oxford and Edinburgh). The main consultant on the project was a guy from the Gifford Bros named Les Kent. He is the brains behind it all."

    And yet..another reference at the "Dr-DOS-Wiki" history section suggests other persons or groups in the UK were part of DR-DOS development. As this bit of history is not of interest to me, I have not tried to resolve these various descriptions. Again, other Web sites cover later DRI OS products in more depth than I.

    An OS for the 80286 processor, DOS-286, was developed by DRI in the late 1980's. A subsequent version became FLEX-OS, which was sold or licensed in some fashion to IBM. See this description for what happened to IBM's version.

    Owners of DRI property in the 1990's: OpenDOS appears

    Digital Research Inc. was bought out by Novell Inc. in 1991. Novell, founded by Ray Noordal and the major provider of networking solutions in the late 1980's, made many computer company acquisitions in the 1990's. Novell offered DRI products including "Novell DOS" with Novell networking features.

    According to this report about Novell Inc., for for year 1991, "Acquisitions that year included Digital Research Inc. for $136 million....". Other sources refer to a stock swap of 3 million shares of Novell Inc. An interesting internal memo from Microsoft about the merger includes a press release which describes DRI as follows: "Digital Research, with 273 employees, had revenue of $40.9 million in its fiscal year ended Sept. 30 1990, up from $36.2 million in fiscal 1989. "

    In 1996, DRI assets were sold to Caldera Systems, a company founded in 1994 as a start-up funded in part by Ray Noordal. The CEO for Caldera was Brian Sparks, an officer of Novell.

    Here's one person's perspective on Novell's purchase of DRI. programmer Marc Perkel of cytme.com He says he spoke in 1991 to Ray Noordal, the founder of Novell (and Caldera later on), and suggested why DRI's DR-DOS would be the basis for a competing product to Microsofgt's Windows. Read his account at his Web site.

    Meanwhile, Caldera released a version of Novell DOS 7.01 in source form for "personal use" and called it "Caldera OpenDOS 7.01". Apparently this was done sometime in 1996-7. In 1997 there was a Caldera OpenDOS 7.02 with changes and a consolidation of prior patches.. By 2006 there is no reference to this on the caldera.com or sco.com or novell.com Web sites; but copies of the distribution are on many private sites. The README file with that distribution describes the terms of use, and they apparently include the following. "Caldera grants you a non-exclusive license to use the Software in source code form free of charge for personal, non-commercial use." But it insists upon obtaining a license for commerical use. It's not quite an "open source" release - the terms are explicitly listed.

    Some history and a review of DR-DOS 7.01 and 7.02 is by Matthias Paul on this UZ-180 Web site.

    Subsequent events regarding Caldera's distribution are mentioned on this page. The apparently "unofficial OpenDOS" Web site is this link but it appears to not have been updated in some time. Some technical discussion of DR DOS, OpenDOS, and Novell DOS 7 is available (as of Aug 2006) on a personal site by programmer Matthias Paul dated in 2001.

    Caldera allowed personal use of CP/M at some point. They licenced Tim Olmstead to put it on his unofficial CP/M archive site. Chances are, that license looks like this one which was apparently given to Peter Schorn for use with his 8080 version of the SIMH emulator.

    Corporate history of CP/M, 1999 to date

    By sometime in 1999, Caldera spun off the DRI assets with their "embedded Linux" assets and created a new company called Lineo Inc. with CEO Brian Sparks. In 2002, Lineo was recapitalized as "Embedix Corp." but was sold later that year to Metrowerks, a division of Motorola at the time. However, in the same period Caldera CEO Sparks created yet another company, "DeviceLogics Inc.", to hold the DRI assets and with himself again as CEO. At some point after 2004, "DeviceLogics Inc" became "DR-DOS Inc.". As of 2007, DRDOS Inc. offers DR-DOS products.

    Meanwhile, by 2002 Caldera changed its name to the SCO Group; subsequently they began to pursue their copyright claims to Unix and against Linux (a discussion beyond the scope of this Web page). That effort went through various courts including a 2007-10 series of trials of SCO vs Novell, and trials against IBM, with not an awful lot of success. Despite collecting some license fees, SCO ran into financial problems and in 2011 was sold off in Chapter 11.

    In a Jan 26 2011 press release on the sco.com Web site , SCO Group announced "UnXis INc..has been selected as the buyer for the software product business of The SCO Group Inc. On Feb 16 2011 the sale will be submitted for approval to the Bankruptcy Court where SCO's Chapter 11 case is pending." The release says UnXis has retained much of the professional staff of SCO. UnXis, apparently an investment group of some sort, will be headed by Richard Bolandz as Chief Executive Officer, Apparently the sale was approved by the court in March 2011. (I don't claim this is a complete or correct account. - Herb)

    Details of this endless saga are pieced together below, roughly in chronological order.

    Summaries of the history of Novell and Caldera and SCO are available from Wikipedia. As of 2006, the links are:
    this one for early Caldera;
    this one for Novell;
    this one for SCO.
    Motorola, who once held Metroworks, became Freescale Semiconductor in the mid-2000's.

    The endless CP/M saga, 2002-2007

    The particulars of CP/M ownership in the 21'st century (after Novell) are a little hard to track. I happened to do so, generally as the events occurred. So I'll present them chronologically as I found out about them. Recall from the above history, that DRI was bought by Novell Inc in 1991; sold to Caldera Systems in 1996, and spun off as part of Lineo in 1999. Caldera briefly offered an "Open DOS", DR-DOS version 7.02; this became the basis for various "open source" versions from private groups, and briefly another version from DRDOS Inc! Read on.....

    CP/M as of Jan 2003

    As of late 2002, I'd heard that Lineo was sold. The 2002 Lineo Web page "about Lineo" said at that time Lineo "is a division of Embedix, Inc", and that their products are "embedded solutions". Lineo represented their DR-DOS products in that context, and sure enough the "products" section refers to "DR-DOS: Y2K DOS perfect for embedded or thin client solutions". That description linked to a DR-DOS Web site (Still active as in 2007) and a company called "DeviceLogics, Inc." The site had a news section which links to the following press release below. (However the linking text refers to a "spring 2004 :-)" release as of Feb 2004.)

    LINDON, Utah-November 18, 2002-DeviceLogics, Inc. today announced that it has acquired DR-DOS from the Canopy Group, a Utah technology venture group, and has plans to release in Spring of 2003 an 8.0 version of DOS, bringing it up-to-date with core embedded functionality. DeviceLogics also plans to release an updated software development kit (SDK) targeted at embedded developers.....

    A brief history of DR-DOS ownership is provided in the press release, followed by this description: "DeviceLogics, Inc. was founded by Bryan Sparks, Bryce Burns and Troy Tribe for the advancement of DOS as an embedded solution." For more information, they referenced their "drdos.com" Web site and Tribe's phone number as a press contact. The site itself consists (as of 5 Jan 2003) as some kind of discussion board with a lot of messages, but no other content or functional links except for a 3MB download of "floppy images" of DR-DOS 7.03, with about 11,000 downloads since Nov 2002.( But see the April 2004 info below.)

    There is no mention of the above events on the "unofficial CP/M site", but the Lineo, Inc. license posted on the site is from Bryan Sparks. He was the former CEO of Lineo, Inc and is CEO of DeviceLogics, Inc., as according to Network World article referenced on the DeviceLogics Web site.

    CP/M as of April 2004

    The "Official DR-DOS Web site" is DeviceLogics's drdos.com site. However it appears that more useful links and info are at MaxFrame Corp.'s Web site, a "Real/32" distributor. As of late Oct 2003, drdos.com offers DR-DOS 7.03 for "$29.00 Single Desktop User", and "bootable DOS" for $20. The latter is for rescue disks and CD's - I've seen it on downloadable bootdisks from various Intel-box and PCI card manufacturers' Web sites. But apparently you can (as of Dec 2003) download DR DOS V7.03 from the MaxFrame Web site.

    The maxframe.com site also mentioned a GEM version "OPEN GEM 2.0", possibly related to "PC-GEM" or "FreeGEM", that is freely available; check the site for an FAQ (or check our GEM news here.) Some of the links there referred to DeltaSoft Web site but the date on that site is June 2001. There is also a link to a Web based DR-DOS discussion group. This site mentions an upcoming DR-DOS version 8.0 in Spring 2003 but has no further info. There are apparently additional pages on this site that are not linked from the home page; check the "club DR-DOS" site for links back to, for instance, documents relating to the relatively recent Microsoft litigation on DR-DOS & CP/M which ended in a settlement.

    There is an apparently private site by "Florian Xaver" for DR-DOS and FreeDOS fans, called Club DR-DOS. The home page says this is the "unofficial site of DeviceLogics's Dr-DOS 7.xx with additional info about older versions like Caldera OpenDOS 7.01, Caldera Dr-DOS 7.02, Lineo/Caldera Dr-DOS 7.03 or NovellDOS." Apparently this site encourges FreeDOS development as a GPL (open source kinda distribution and license) alternative to DR-DOS. There are also many good links to other related DOS'es, many of which are "free", and links (many dead) to privately run sites encouraging or supporting these various DOSes. There is also a discussion list and links and a bit of current history and past history.

    2005: Lineo to DeviceLogics to DR-DOS Inc. in 2000-02

    As of Jan 2005, the Lineo FTP site no longer has CP/M code or docs. So I did some Web searching.

    Links to "lineo.com" now point to a MetroWerks default page. Searching through the MetroWerks Web site and the Web, I found nuggets of info as follows. An April 9, 2001 press release: "In Sept. 2000, Motorola, Inc., Metrowerks' parent company, acquired 3 million shares of Lineo, Inc. [8% of total shares] for the aggregate price of $22.5 million. This agreement established a strategic partnership between Lineo, Inc. and Metrowerks." Apparently this was in regards to Lineo's Embedix products. Apparently sometime in April 2002 "Lineo Corp." became "Embedix Corp." after a recapitalization via "Canopy Group" ; and an "auction on the courthouse steps in Orem, Utah" (according to a LinuxWorld story). In a December 17, 2002 press release: "Metrowerks, a Motorola company (NYSE:MOT), has signed an agreement to acquire the key assets of Embedix™ Inc., a leading provider of Linux® tools and solutions." No mention of CP/M or DRI former assets in any of these documents or Web sites. So I thought that was the end...but...

    ..but I found this article "DR DOS lives" on NewsForge.com, a Web news service for Linux/Open Source, for March 30, 2004 by Joe Barr. Mr. Barr says: [in 2002] Caldera Systems changed its name to the SCO Group. Also in 2002, Bryan Sparks co-founded a new firm called DeviceLogics, and promptly bought [from Caldera] DR DOS for the second time....The much-storied DR DOS is now part of the DeviceLogics product line. DeviceLogics is a startup firm in Lindon, Utah, which is also home to The SCO Group." My guess is that Sparks bought the assets at that courthouse auction. The article references a press release about the release of DR-DOS 8.0 and DeviceLogics. Bryan Sparks is no stranger to CP/M: the release license for CP/M on Gaby's CP/M licensed archive Web site is signed by Sparks.

    But oddly enough, a press release for March 2004 at drdos.com says that it is "Drdos, Inc." which offers DR-DOS 8.0, again quoting Brian Sparks as CEO of *that* company; and Troy Tribe as a founder. The drdos site says DR-DOS 7.3 is available for $35 a pop or $20K for source; 8.0 costs $25 per use. What about DeviceLogics? A check of devicelogics.com's home page, constructed March 29 2004, says: "DeviceLogics will announce soon. If you are looking for DRDOS products please visit http://www.drdos.com/". The drdos.com company page says DR-DOS was acquired from Lineo "by Drdos Inc. in Oct 2002".

    Other DRI-based activities, April 2005 - April 2006

    On April 2005 I found what is apparently a MaxFrame sponsored Web site for DRI history and status. at digitalresearch.biz. The highlight of the site is the 25th reunion of DRI employees in 1999, with photos and testimonials authored by various persons of the era; and memorials to Gary Kildall and his wife Dorothy McEwen, both deceased. There are also documents on the history of DRI, a history of litigation with Microsoft by DRI intellectual property owners (Caldera for instance), and the status of current DRI-originated software like REAL-32, or links to DRDOS downloads, sites and discussions.

    At the digitalresearch.biz software page, as of April 2005 the major links are:
    drdos.com, the commercial site for DR-DOS 8.0;
    drdos.net, " Unofficial DR-DOS Resources" by Christoph Fuchs ;
    drdos.org, linked to a another site which apparently hosts "Club Dr-DOS"; "the unofficial site of DeviceLogics's Dr-DOS 8.0 and the new Enhanced DR-DOS [7.0?]".

    In April 2006, drdos.org now links to the Club DR-DOS Wiki" and has a lot of discussion and chat and such. Apparently it gives a lot of space to FreeDOS and something called "Enhanced DOS", while hoping that DR-DOS will be "open sourced" someday. Somebody check this out for me and give me a clue as to what it's about, please.

    The "digitalresearch.biz" software page has other links involving REAL/32. Check the end of my REAL/32 section for my April 2005 check of those links. In April 2006, I see this page also links to OpenGEM by Shane Coughlan et al. It's apparently a 16bit graphical user interface for DOS.

    (But by August 2006, there was no Web site for "devicelogics.com", only a smattering of links to "drdos.com". However many of the Web pages at drdos.com refer to DeviceLogics, and "devicelogics.com" Web links in 2006 are redirected to drdos.com.)

    2005-6: FreeDOS, OpenDOS and DRDOS 8 (RIP)

    As of August 2006, the DRDOS home page at drdos.com has not changed much from 2004. That page offers DRLX, an embedded Linux; and DRDOS as "a desktop solution or an embedded application". Single user licenses for version 7.03 are available for $20-$35, apparently by credit card; up to $25K for a one-time "buy out" license for apparently unlimited use. All this information is apparently unchanged from year 2004. There are press releases on site for DRDOS 8.0 from March 2004, but no further info. Other sites suggest that DRDOS 8.0 is/was "version 7.03 with FAT32 and large disk/partition built into the DOS kernel".

    A Web search for DRDOS pages from 2006 eventually led me to the FreeDOS.org Web page and this bit of news from Oct 2005. It's alleged that DR-DOS 8.1, released early Oct 2005, includes "old versions of some popular open source, freeware and shareware products without licenses, documentation or even credit to their authors", taken from the FreeDOS project. The kernel was not apparently an upgrade of DRDOS 8.0, released in 2004; but an enhanced DRDOS 7.01 from Udo Kuhnt as derived from Open Source'd Caldera OpenDOS 7.01. The outcome was initially to post that portions of 8.1 were under GPL license; but when told by email that sources also had to be distributed as well and other conditions of that license, DRDOS.COM apparently removed all references on their site to 8.1 altogether. Any reference to 8.0 was apparently removed at some point by Aug 2006, when I looked at the site.

    As for OpenDOS 7.01 or 7.02: since SCO (formerly Caldera) does not own DR-DOS, their Web site in 2006 has no files or references to it. Numerous private Web sites have these files and information on them. I've listed a few such sites on this page; a Web search should find those and other sites. I've not tried to determine which of these sites are active or leading or primary or first.

    DRI descendent products (or not) in 2007

    As of June 2007, DRDOS.COM Inc. still has a Web site, still offers DR-DOS 7.0.something, much like it was in 2005 as above; check there for details. I still see self-booting diskettes to run utilities for current hardware products, which boot up DR-DOS in some version to test the hardware without using Windows (or Linux). And, there is still a license in place at the "unofficial CP/M Web site" for personal use of 8-bit CP/M products. See my early DRI Web page for details of that stuff, and that Web site for code and documents. Usenet group "comp.os.cpm" is still actively discussing many DRI 8-bit, and 16-bit products in hobby use today..

    FreeDOS, OpenDOS today

    FreeDOS apparently started from efforts by Jim Hall in the early 90's to replace MS-DOS utilities. He says: "After I'd written over a dozen utilities that replaced MS-DOS commands, and found some public domain source that implemented other functionality, I realized that you could reproduce what MS-DOS does and make it a free software project. So I decided to go for it." He announced his work in 1994, and released a V1.0 in Sept 2006. See my notes on FreeDOS and OpenDos above. (I did not find on the site what "public domain source" referred to; the oldest links to discussions of FreeDOS were dead by 2007.)

    Caldera OpenDOS began as a version of DR-DOS (AKA Novell DOS?) version 7.01 or 7.02 from Caldera  as I described above; as SCO they no longer own DR-DOS.. In 2007 a search for "OpenDOS" still finds this 1997-dated site at DeltaSoft which leads to obsolete download links to Caldera. Old copies of these "open sources" linger around the Web, and in old CD-ROMs.

    There is a DR-DOS/OpenDOSWeb site which apparently represents development based on "DR-DOS 7.01" (more likely CalderaDOS 7.01) from 2004 forward to at least 2007, by Udo Kuhnt. It looks like he offers his work as patches to the DR-DOS 7.01 sources, or as binaries. Since 2005 he offers it as "Enhanced DR-DOS".

    By 2007, "Club DR-DOS" has a Wiki at this link. There's some extensive history and links there about FreeDOS, DR-DOS, and Caldera OpenDOS; and some links to other MSDOS-like efforts like 4DOS, GNUDOS, TripleDOS, etc. etc.....

    the status of REAL/32, a DRI descendent

    REAL 32 is an OS descendent of DRI's Concurrent DOS operating system. MaxFrame Corp. was a "Real/32" distributor in 2004. In early Feb 2004 there was discussion in comp.os.cpm (Usenet newsgroup) of the status of REAL/32. Portions and subsequent conversations are quoted below with the permission of the correspondents, particularly Richard Plinston of New Zealand. A Google search may find more and current information. I've added Web links to the companies mentioned and closing current comments. My edits are in []'s.

    *>>>>Logan Industries was the distributor for REAL/32, which was/is DR
    *>>>>concurrent multiuser DOS.
    *>>>>
    *>>>>  Well, as of January 2003 they terminated all sales and support of
    *>>>>  REAL/32. 
    *>>>>
    *>>>
    *>>>IMS, Ltd. now have the distributorship for Real/32. It's not gone.
    *>> 
    *>> Not quite.  IMS Ltd were the OEM developer of Real/32.
    *>> 
    *>> When Novell bought DRI there were 3 main VARs (Value Added Resellers)
    *>> of DR-Multiuser-DOS:
    *>> 
    *>> DataPac in Australia with System Manager
    *>> IMS Ltd. in UK with Real/32
    *>> [Concurrent Controls Inc] in USA with Gold something or other.
        [note: in 1999 CCI became Applica Inc.. As of 2009 their applica.com Web site has no info on Concurrent DOS. - Herb]
    *>> 
    *>> Both REal/32 and System Manager are enhanched versions of
    *>> DR-Multiuser-DOS, as is CCI's Gold products.
    *>> They can run DPMI software and, for example, can run Windows 3.11 as [one]
    *>> or several tasks.  SM had a multi-headed version to run one box with
    *>> 4 or 8 [video hardware supported] monitors and keyboards.  They
    *>>[also] had network connected terminals.
    *>>
    *>Datapac has an interesting history.  It was started to satisfy a
    *>contract to supply a large Aussie Govt department with thousands of
    *>desktops with specific requirements.  Mainly they had to be
    *>multi-tasking and resilliant.  They started by using MS-DOS 4.0 and 4.1,
    *>the multi-tasking MS-DOS not related to the much later 4.01.
    *>
    *>Apparently it was all about working and ready for installing when MS
    *>pulled the product.  Datapac had to switch to another OS and decided on
    *>[DRI's] Concurrent-DOS; so they became an OEM and then a VAR.  They produced
    *>their own multi-port serial cards and developed networking services.
    *>
    *>Real/32 used some of Datapac's developments, for example the OzStation
    *>software that networks Windows machines to the multiuser system.
    *>>
    *>> DataPac [became] the Aussie agent for Citrix. 
    *>> Citrix bought out Datapac [around 1998] and eventually dropped
    *>> System Manager, hoping to sell Citrix [products] to the users.
    *>> 
    *>> CCI dropped their version of DR-MDOS and had a multi-user addon for
    *>> Windows using multi-headed video-cards.
    *>> 
    *>> IMS continued with Real/32 and also developed Real/NG which runs an
    *>> emulation of DR-MDOS on top of Linux.  I think they are under new
    *>> ownership but still operate as IMS Ltd.
    *>> 
    *>> Logan Industries did develop software for DR-MDOS, such as PTerm and
    *>> Mimic, but were agents for IMS in reselling Real/32.
    
    

    As of Feb 2004,  The Citrix Web site has no obvious info on or history of REAL/32 or System Manager. IMS Ltd offers on their Web site Real/32 V7.94 from a page dated "January 31 2003". CCI apparently still offers Novell DR MultiuserDOS V5.11 and related products, but their Web site mentions "Y2K solutions for these products". Logan's Web site refers REAL/32 inquiries to IMS Ltd., dated Jan 2003. - Herb

    As of April 2005: The Digital Research .biz site has a link to REAL-32 products from Logan Industries, "the Sole Distributor for REAL/32 in North & South America". the DR page also has a link to download REAL/32 from MaxFrame but that link is broken..but (hehe) there IS a .ZIP file at this similar link. And, if you look down the directory tree, there is other info about DRI on the MaxFrame site.

    As of June 2011, there's a free evaluation copy from 1997 of Real32 7.54, a Real32 SDK and some more stuff you can find at some "old" support files of Alloy in Australia. Thanks to Michael Kasten of Germany for this link.

    the status of GEM, a DRI descendent

    GEM was Digital Research's graphical front end. They had a GEM product for 8086 systems, and offered a development version which could be migrated to other systems and processors. Notible versions were for the Atari ST, and for the Apple Lisa. Hop over to this Web page for more GEM notes and links.

    In Feb 2002 I discovered the FreeGEM Web site in the UK (gone in 2005) for FreeGEM. That site said Caldera/Lineo in 1999 released Digital Research's GEM under the GPL license agreement. As of Jan 2005, there is a FreeGEM Web ring linking several sites. Check it for current developments.

    As of 2008: One site on the FreeGEM Ring is Dylan Harris' site, a former GEM developer and the creator of the GEM Programmer's Workbench. .(Note: not to be confused with the Amiga "Workbench" operating system.) On his site is a 2001 statement from Lineo, Inc. which releases GEM for use under the GNU General Public License, commonly called "open source". Here's a local copy of that statement.

    Another Web page dates back to 1999 but is still active in 2008.Here's GEM files "released by Caldera as open source", when they owned DRI assets. Some Atari ST files are included, some DRI products, and copies in German. I cannot judge which of these files were actually released by Caldera.

    Another site by Owen Rudge has his "distribution" of GEM and GEM products. He refers to DeltaSoft's site whose GEM page says "This is the place for all PC GEM and GEM-related news and development" ; the site was last updated June 2001 so my guess is that statement is not operative at this time. However Deltasoft has a version tree graphic for GEM which is informative but may not be correct. Let's see...

    That version tree by Ben Jemmett says that DRI developed GSX, and then GEM/1. GEM/1 branched into Atari GEM; X/GEM (I'd guess an Xwindows version?), and PC-GEM/2. PC-GEM/2 branched to GEM/XM, which led to FreeGEM/XM; and PC-GEM/2 branched to GEM/3. GEM/3 branched to versions of ViewMAX; it also branched to GEM/4 and /5; and GEM/3 was GPL'ed and begat various FreeGEM and other products subsequently. Apparently DRI had a hand in almost all of these, either alone or with other companies. As of Jan 2005 there is a Yahoo group for GEM announcements which while sparce goes back to 2001 and so may be informative.

    In April 2006, there is a link from digitalresearch.biz to a Web site for OpenGEM by Shane Coughlan et al. It's apparently a 16-bit graphical user interface for DOS which is derived from GEM. The site apparently started in 2004 and has material up to about Sept 2005. There is an interview section which includes chats with early developers of DR-GEM, FreeGEM, and FreeDOS.

    DOS-286, Flex OS, IBM 4690

    Noted elsewhere in this document, FlexOS seems to be a DRI product derived from DOS-286, and later sold or licensed to IBM. In May 2007 I was alerted that the point-of-sale operating system supported by IBM called "IBM 4690 Operating System" was derived from Digital Research's FLEX-OS, which itself is a version of DRI's DOS-286. The IBM version is up to Version 5 as of 2007, Version 6 as of Jan 2010. You can look at its features at the IBM support site for the product; or do a Web search for "IBM 4690 OS" if the link goes sour. IBM does not mention "FlexOS" in its online documents.

    Clinton Moody, a software engineer for that product suggested that the "fork" to IBM's use was sometime in the 1990's. No doubt, someone familiar with the DOS-286 product could narrow that down. This IBM product was in use at POS stations around the world, in 2007, I'm told. IBM's support site shows off a few of those customers. Yet many of the tools in that OS are familiar to CP/M programmers: SID86, LINK86, LIB86. These seem to date from the early 1990's, according to DRI copyright dates.

    "Business Wire" publication for December 15 1994 has an article on Integrated Systems Inc which notes "an equity investment earlier this year by Novell and acquisition of Novell's FlexOS (TM) embedded operating system..." The company was located in Santa Clara, Calif. and was said to be 14 years old (i.e. from 1980). Other references say the NASDAQ-listed INTS merged with Wind River Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: WIND) in February, 2000.

    In Jan 2010 bitsavers.org provided some PDF's of Digital Research manuals on their archive site. A section on "flexos" has imaged DRI manuals of FlexOS V1.3 dated from November 1986. The User's Guide and other associated manuals refer to the 80286 processor, but offer no history of the product. The Programmer's Guide on that site, suggests a "68000-based implementation" but is not specific.

    A Jan 2010 search of Google's archive of InfoWorld, a computing trade newspaper/journal of the 1970's through the 1990's, has many mentions of FlexOS and DRI. Aug 17, 1987 - "Digital Research's FlexOS (the most recent version of Concurrent DOS).....Dec 20, 1993 - Novell, Inc. discusses adding NetWare to "FlexOS, inherited from Digital Research". Aug 1 1994, "Briefly noted:....Novell Inc. last week transferred development of its FlexOS real-time embedded operating system to Integrated Systems Inc......." This is also referenced in an article on Aug 8 1994. Sep 19, 1994: "the [Novell] company has gotten out of Novell DOS, AppWare Foundation, Btrieve and FlexOS.....".

    Siemens and FlexOS, X/GEM

    SIEMENS of Germany used FlexOS, X/GEM and FlexNet also with their software package S5 DOS/MT, probably phased out in 10/97, for their programming machines PG 730/750. As of June 2011, look for this document on Siemens Web site about S5-DOS/MT software. In the programmers manual for the PG 730 you can find several informations how to use the X/GEM-system with Plant Top (aka Desktop), including output.app and FlexNet. The manual is available via links on this Siemens Web page. Consider Siemens' copyright notice. Thanks to Michael Kasten of Germany for this link.

    Abicon Ltd. and FlexOS

    In May 2010 I was contacted by Fred Jan Kraan, who refered me to the Abikion Ltd. company Web site. This German company, said Fred, appears to have "made FlexOS drivers and Windows customizations, and is in some sense afilliated to Siemens". (It appears to me that they are supporting COROS LS-B products previously supported by Siemens.) Fred quoted a 1998-dated description of FlexOS history on their site, translated by him from German: "Various current products like Concurrent Controls' CCI Multiuser DOS, Intelligent Micro Software's IMS REAL/32, Integrated Systems' FlexOS and SIEMENS FlexOS are going their own way, but [they] are based on the original source from DR Multiuser DOS or DR FlexOS." Another Abicon Web page has some GEM software, including a Tetris game from 2001.

    Google"s "Translate" free service, does a reasonable job of translating Abicon's Web pages from, in my case, German to English. The Abicon FlexOS Web page (dated 1998) says that FlexOS is related to DRI's earlier OS's, but does not give specifics. But it names "other members of the DRI OS family as of 1993 are DR PalmDOS, DR Concurrent PC-DOS, DR Concurrent DOS/386, DR Concurrent DOS/XM...In this environment included is the DR NET network and the graphical multitasking GEM for Intel and Motorola platforms (eg. Atari's GEMDOS) and last but not least, the modular protected-mode real-time operating system DR Flex OS, as well as sub-systems X/GEM and FlexNet." This is followed by the reference above as translated by Fred. The page ends with "The youngest child of this family of operating systems is Caldera's new OpenDOS. OpenDOS (1997) is the successor of Novell DOS (1993-1996), the DR DOS (1988-1993) and DR Multiuser DOS descended from."

    Fred says in correspondence: "The COROS LS-B product (mentioned as discontinued from the Siemens catalog since 1998), is probably an application or extension for FlexOS. But apparantly both were sold and delivered as one product, because there is only one [software] installation." Fred provided some Web links from "http://support.automation.siemens.com", but I suggest going to that Web page and searching for "COROS FLEXOS" to find those pages. "What [COROS] is used for isn't very clear from the PDFs on this page. Probably some data collection server for measurement devices. This is in line with the typical Siemens product range. The Latest version of COROS LS-B/Flexos on the Siemens site is 4.2 (2001-01-31) but the product documentation mentions FlexOS 2.3 93". He says the latest documentation he found was dated 2001-10-31.

    COROS LS-B development seems to have ended in 2001; the site has a support note on it as a "Product Phase-Out" on 10/01/2003. On-site discussion suggests COROS is still in use in legacy (old) applications. I emailed Abicon, but only got an automated message to contact their offices by telephone; I later read that same contact information in the support note I've mentioned.


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