A history of GeoWorks and getting a Brother GeoBook onto today’s internet #VintageComputing

Cameron Kaiser on the Old Vintage Computing Research blog gives a very detailed account of the GEOS operating system, PC/GeoWorks Ensemble and a line of laptops made by Brother (of typewriter fame) running Ensemble.

Incredibly, the first retail version in October 1990 of what was called GeoWorks Ensemble hit nearly every goal, running on XT-class systems with just 512K of RAM, CGA and MS-DOS 2.0. Recognizing the new operating system’s importance to the company, Berkeley Softworks renamed itself to GeoWorks as well with the release. In addition to serving as a graphical shell for DOS, which GeoWorks ran on top of, adjustable user levels presented a simplified or full user interface as appropriate to novices and advanced users alike. It included a word processor, file manager, draw program and telecommunications modules, all written in assembly language, C with non-standard object extensions, and an interpreted language called IZL…

…Ensemble still lives on, and today it’s free and open source. NewDeal Office went through several revisions, including two major version updates (to PC/GEOS 4.0) and support for the 486-based set-top box MyTurn GlobalPC, until the company went out of business in 2000 and GeoWorks took back the license. Breadbox Computer Company acquired the rights in 2003 as part of GeoWorks’ unwinding and continued modest development. A long-gestating project to bring GEOS to Android devices came to a sudden halt when company founder Frank Fischer died unexpectedly of a heart attack and the company ceased operations. Fortunately, former Breadbox employee Falk Rehwagen negotiated with his family to bring GEOS into a freely available modern platform buildable with Watcom and with a full SDK, and that’s the package you can download today which still works great in DOSBox.

Read more in the post here.

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