DigiBarn is running a piece that, in a series of 24 photos, shows Micsoroft Windows 1.03 being installed on an AT&T 6300 PC compatible (hey, I’ve got one of those!). From the stack of ten 5.25″ floppies to the warm, green glow of the of the high-res monochrome display, to the…intuitive and aesthetically pleasing graphical interface that Windows brings to bear on the user experience proposition — it’s all there.
That’s a savvy interface eh? I mean, if you’re going to rip Apple someone off, you may as well do it right, right? So first there was the Lisa with the first commercial GUI, announced in January of 1983. Then there was the much more consumer-friendly Macintosh, with a nicer interface, released in January of 1984. Windows 1.0 wasn’t released until November of 1985. And it’s not even an operating system; it’s a presentation manager that sits on DOS. Windows 2.0 didn’t come until late 1987. It boggles the mind.
So let’s see…. Back in 1985, I went through a few different machines. According to my list and my fading memory, I owned an Apple //c, an Atari 400, a Commodore 128, an original Macintosh (128K), a Laser 3000 (Apple ][+ clone), and an Amiga 1000. Most of those had GUIs available for them. Read on to hear me prattle on a bit about them.
The Apple //c had a few GUIs available. There was Berkeley Systems’ GEOS, which I never liked. There was also Quark’s Catalyst and MouseDesk from VersionSoft. I used and was fond of Catalyst. Here’s abit of detail I found about two of the three:
- Although the 6502 processor did not have the horsepower of the 68000 in the Mac, some programs began to appear for the AppleII that tried to make use of the same concept of overlapping windows, pull-down menus, and a mouse (or joystick) driven pointer. Quark released a program selector called Catalyst that used a similar graphics-based desktop, icons for files, and the point-and-click method of file execution. It was included with some of the early UniDisk 3.5 drives, and on Quark’s hard drives. Another company, VersionSoft (from France) had a program called MouseDesk, which was distributed in America by International Solutions. MouseDesk worked just a bit better than Catalyst, but did not do very well as a standalone product, especially with Catalyst being given away free with the new UniDisk. Eventually, International Solutions made MouseDesk available for only ten dollars via mail-order, hoping to get it into general enough use that their other graphic- and mouse-based products would sell better. Although that did not happen, International Solutions did eventually sell the rights to distribution of MouseDesk over to Apple Computer. Apple then modified the program and included it with as a rudimentary desktop (modeled after the Macintosh Finder) for their first versions of ProDOS 16 System software for the Apple IIGS.
The Commodore 128 had GEOS, and the 8-bit Commodore was really its target platform. Arktronics put out a graphical office suite (not really a general desktop interface) with a very crude GUI, called Jane. It sucked.
The new Commodore, the Amiga, sported the pretty blue Workbench. I spent most of my GUI time in 1985 using the Amiga’s interface, having purchased my Amiga 1000 in 1985 (the first unit sold in the state of Virginia). Now, I agree the Amiga’s GUI was crude (but colorful) compared to that of the Macintosh — but hey, the Amiga offered preemptive multitasking and a UNIX-like CLI, all running on 256K of RAM standard, making it a much more capable system.
I’ve just described a mish mash of desktop GUIs. Most seem, to me, superior to Microsoft Windows 1.0. Go figure.
DigiBarn also has a Windows/286 v2.11 photo page online. Have a look. You can almost taste the progression of technology from the one to the next….