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IBM's Failed Operating System OS/2 Is 25 Years Old—But It Still Powers ATMs and Checkouts

Illustration for article titled IBMs Failed Operating System OS/2 Is 25 Years Old—But It Still Powers ATMs and Checkouts

On April 2 1987, IBM launched its plan to revolutionize the PC industry: a next-generation operating system called OS/2. Co-developed by IBM and Microsoft, it was designed to replace DOS and change the way we used computers. Sadly, it didn't. But it still crops up in some of the weirdest places.

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You see, it was ahead of its time. It was able to multi-task, for instance, and it's GUI let you right-click on things to tweak settings. It was blazing a trail, which you can read about in more detail in a wonderful feature over at Time. In fact, it was blazing such a trail that—even though Windows became the dominant OS in the market and caused OS/2 to fail commercially—plenty of industrial users embraced it.

And still do. New York City uses it to power systems for swiping fare cards. Safeway runs it on its supermarket checkouts. And there are still plenty of ATMs dotted around the country that run OS/2. Old, failed and forgotten it may be. But it just won't go away. [Time]

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Image by Malvineous under Creative Commons license

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DISCUSSION

eustace-silly
Eustace Silly

Even littler known fact: The NeXTSTEP operating system, which failed even harder, is basically what powers every Mac, iPhone, and iPad today.

But won't someone remember poor little BeOS?