What is BeOS?

BeOS is an operating system developed by Be Inc. Be was a company created by ex-Apple employees who wanted to create a successful personal computer of their own. Both the OS and the hardware were the brainchild of Jean Louis Gassée and Steve Sakoman. The hardware, known as the BeBox, was a relatively unique personal computer for the time. In contrast to other computers of the time, the BeBox used two processors to work more efficiently and more powerfully. It also contained a special I/O port called the Geekport and a bezel light array called Blinkenlights. The Geekport was a unique port with a wide range of capabilities, which never caught on among the widespread computer-using audience. Blinkenlights were simply a colorful way to illustrate CPU load, as the BeBox was designed for digital media uses.

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The BeOS software was designed around a clean and clutter-free design and a clarity that promoted easy and effective use of the machine. For a time after its development, the BeOS was poised to overtake the market and become one of the dominant operating systems on a level with Microsoft Windows. Eventually, due to several twists of fate and poor decisions, the OS was passed over and today has been relegated to minor usage among a small group of Be enthusiasts and a handful of minor pieces of stand-alone hardware.

Today, the BeOS lives on in several different forms, none achieving the glory their progenitor was on the brink of reaching. A number of different offshoots and clones of the original BeOS existed for a while, but only one remains. The Haiku OS is this remnant, a free, open-source replication of the original BeOS with modern upgrades. BeOS also forms the code base for the Zeta OS, which is used in small Internet-enabled appliances. For example, certain video editors from the Roland Corporation run on Zeta. BeOS is used for the Aavelin line of digital signs produced by Magicbox.

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