os2logo-2In 1980, IBM and Microsoft joined forces. IBM, the venerable computer manufacturer, wanted Bill Gates and Paul Allen, founders of Microsoft, to design an operating system for its PCs. IBM decided to let Microsoft keep the rights to the MS-DOS operating system, allowing Gates and Allen to sell it to other computer manufacturers.

Before long, MS-DOS swept through the computer universe, and the young upstarts of Microsoft started raking in huge profits. Microsoft became an operating system Goliath to IBM’s David, an unexpected role reversal. Still, the companies continued to develop operating systems together until 1990. At that point, Microsoft pursued its Windowsand DOS line of operating systems, and IBM continued with OS/2, a graphical operating system it developed in 1985 with Microsoft.

OS/2 is comparable with Windows 95 (Win95), but there are significant differences. For starters, OS/2 is a true 32-bit operating system, making it more powerful than a 16-bit operating system such as Windows 3.1 or than one built on 16-bit code as Win95 is. OS/2, however, still can run 16-bit applications. In fact, OS/2 can run most programs designed for Windows 3.1 or Win95. The OS/2 GUI (graphical user interface) looks a bit different from Win95’s, but its operation is basically the same. Users click icons to open and run programs. One also can drag icons to perform various functions. OS/2 developed a reputation as a robust operating system that outdid Windows at tasks such as helping several applications work together.

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