GEOS (8-bit operating system)

GEOS ( Graphic Environment Operating System) is an operating system with a graphical user interface for home computers, which additionally owns office applications. The manufacturer was Berkeley Softworks, who later renamed to GeoWorks Corporation.

GEOS was released for the 8 -bit computer, C64, C128 and Apple II and Apple IIc 128k / s. A cracker group released unofficially Commodore-Plus/4- and C16 version. The 8 -bit versions of GEOS call themselves the computer models according to GEOS 64, GEOS 128, GEOS PLUS / 4 and Apple II GEOS.

GEOS for the Commodore 64 C64

With the introduction of the second version of the C64, C64C in a flat housing, this home computer operating system with a graphical user interface with built-in application programs (text and image processing geoWrite and geoPaint ) was from the end of 1986, first in for some time with GEOS 1.2, which of those Apple Macintosh was similar. On the German market this version, which was present exclusively in the English language was not officially available as a single product. With the publication of the first localized for the German market version 1.3 and later 2.0 -minded, could the German distributor of market & technology, these single floppy after payment of a special update price ( for GEOS 1.3: 39 DM instead of 69 DM) replace it with the current version.

Version 1.3 contained a translated into German surface. Among other small improvements this offered the user the first time under GEOS a German keyboard layout, and allowed the use of umlauts. Furthermore supported offered by Commodore C64/128 for RAM upgrades. They could under GEOS as its own hard drive, so-called RAM disk are addressed and also accelerated the use of existing disk drives.

GEOS 1.3 was delivered on two sides recorded 5.25-inch disks. The first disc contained on the front of the so-called system disc that is used to boot GEOS. Since the GEOS disks due to a slightly different file system with conventional C64 - copy programs could not be copied and had a copy, which was not overcome until some time later, the contents contained the second disk as a backup measure the system disk again, this was " called security system ". It was used to start the system in the event that the system disk is damaged.

The back of the first disk (called " Applications") has included the already known applications geoWrite and geoPaint in recent localized versions with minor improvements as well as various utilities and font files. On the back of the second disk (called a " driver") were accordingly printer driver files.

GEOS 64 1.3 appeared on the software market in parallel with other applications that could be purchased separately: among other things, the spreadsheet GeoCalc that geoFile database, desktop publishing program geoPublish a disk with an extended geoWrite version 2.1 ( geoWrite Workshop) which is also a program for creating form letters included ( geoMerge ) and to drive with geoLaser the possibility laser printer using PostScript, a floppy disk with smaller additional programs such as a calendar (Calendar ), an address management ( Geodex ) and a card game (Black Jack ) ( DeskPack ) a disk with many additional fonts ( font Pack ) and a special assembly language development package ( geoProgrammer ) and a BASIC implementation ( GeoBasic ). However, the menu navigation of these supplementary programs was not Germanized.

In addition, also appeared at the same time GEOS 128 1.3, a special version that could take advantage of the advanced capabilities of the C128 ( see below).

In 1988 the next version of GEOS 64 2.0. This was presented to the user with an extended, slightly modified desktop interface. Have been integrated into this version, which was delivered to a total of four disks, the programs of the GeoWrite workshop, the spell check program GeoSpell as well as other printer drivers. At the same time appeared according to a GEOS128 version.

For the user with a then typical single - floppy drive system without RAM expansion, the work designed with GEOS as follows: He had, after GEOS boot up, load a compiled by himself working floppy disk into the floppy disk drive on which he the required application software, utilities, had copied the printer driver to be used and font files. The more free space on the disk could be used for project files. GEOS 64 was not able to keep utilities, printer driver and font files in RAM because of the limited memory. So we had this as long as they were needed at work, be available on the work disk. When using multiple disk drives and / or a RAM expansion the constant provision of additional files could be easier for the user in which they were present in the RAM disk or on the disk in the other drive.

Since the early 1990s Commodore ceased production and distribution of the RAM extensions, appeared on the initiative of Berkeley Softworks GeoRAM the replacement product, which had similar functionality in GEOS, but was rarely used outside of GEOS. From the late 80s, first a Public Domain-Software/Shareware/Freeware-Szene developed in North America, especially in the forums of the online provider Quantum Link and CompuServe, which provided for a show many additional GEOS programs and tools. This software was in Europe mainly via mail order companies, who specialized in the distribution of PD software available. Moreover, it was established in 1989 in Germany the GEOS User Club ( GUC ) and represents the interests of private club GEOS users. The Markt & Technik Verlag published between 1988 and 1994 in seven 64'er - special issues, as well as individual titles, more GEOS programs, so the terminal program Geoterm and the alternative Assembler Development Package Mega assembler.

In 1993, the German distributor of market & technology in collaboration with the Geos User Club ( GUC ), a new version 2.5 together. These included, in addition to the previous version 2.0 another diskette, the spell checker Spell Checker and other utilities contained the alternative surface TopDesk, which had previously been available separately at the GUC. This update, which was really just an extension was made ​​solely for the German GEOS 64, not for the American version and not for GEOS 128

In the 90s, other manufacturers tried to make the work under GEOS comfortable and above all the peripherals that the American Hardware Manufacturers Creative Micro Designs (CMD ) had developed for C64/128 until then, for the publication of alternative desktop interfaces and system enhancements GEOS to make better use of. Mentioned are the 1993 itself presented by CMD alternative desktop gateway, which in 1999 published Upgrade MegaPatch whose surface was graphically oriented on Windows 95 and was only available in German language, as well as about the same time published Wheels by Maurice Randall, who had the claim, the continue Look'n oriented feel of the early versions of MacOS original desktop.

The sales and production rights of the operating system were at Berkeley Softworks, who later changed their name in GeoWorks and with PC / GEOS, and it follows PEN / GEOS strong, but the predecessor incompatible development for x86 DOS PCs, PDAs, MiniPCs and - smartphones published.

The Commodore product line was acquired by Creative Micro Designs (CMD ) in 1993. 2001 ended CMD in turn all Commodore - specific activities and handed over on July 21, 2001, all rights Click Here Software Company, which is operated by Maurice Randall. Since early 2004, GEOS stands for the C64 and C128 without manual free at CMDRKEY available for download.

GEOS for the Commodore Plus / 4 and C16

Parallel to the C64 Commodore Business Machines tried the Plus / 4 to establish an inexpensive home computer. 1987 GEOS 64 of Oluf Heinrichsen was unofficial and subject to error ported to the Plus / 4 and C16 and 3.5 called GEOS (according to the version number of the employed on the Plus / 4 Commodore BASIC dialect ). On both home computers these GEOS version requires 64 KiB RAM, which is why the C16 is upgrade. GEOS 3.5 works only with the rare Plus/4- and C16 floppy disk drive in 1551, which is connected via a special parallel cable. An operation with the widespread C64/128-Diskettenlaufwerken 1541 and 1571 that were on the computers of Plus/4-Reihe also common, is not possible. GEOS 3.5 has no mouse support, the mouse pointer must be controlled by joystick. It should be noted that GEOS 3.5 was derived for the Plus / 4 from GEOS 64 1.2, which was also not designed at this time on the C64/128 for the use of a computer mouse.

GEOS 128 for the Commodore C128

After publication of the GEOS 1.3 for the C64, the then manufacturers Berkeley Softworks GEOS decided to bring to the market for the professional Commodore C128 PC. There was GEOS 128 1.3 for the first time in a 80 - character mode (higher resolution than in C64) and here was superior to the C64 GEOS through the use of dual processor clock frequency of 2 MHz. With the publication of GEOS 64 2.0 a 2.0 version of GEOS 128 was published.

GEOS 128 was directly compatible with almost all GEOS -64 applications had to be switched without in a C64 mode - unlike normal C64 software; however, the limited to the operation of the application in 40-character mode, as a GEOS application had to be designed for a mode to be executable. The mode could be switched during operation, which was also done automatically when launching an application of the other mode.

GEOS 128 had for the user also has the advantage that it could hold because of the larger memory of the C128, as opposed to GEOS 64 important additional files, such as the printer driver constantly in RAM and thus enabled a more comfortable work.

Other special features:

  • There were special GEOS 128 versions for file management GeoFILE and the spreadsheet GeoCalc. However, they were designed only for the 80-column mode. Other additional purchasable GEOS applications such as DTP program GeoPUBLISH and the chart application GeoChart other hand, were only available as GEOS 64 version, could therefore be started only in 40 - character mode in GEOS 128.
  • GEOS 128 ran in 80 - character mode significantly faster than GEOS GEOS 64 or 128 in 40 - character mode despite the higher resolution because the CPU was run at 2 MHz instead of 1 MHz clock. This was not possible in 40 - character mode, as the 40-character graphics chip " VIC " the C64/128 could display the image only at 1 MHz. There was but one tool, which has sent switched to 2 MHz clock, while the cathode ray in the upper or lower frame of the screen and has been clocked down again when he was in the middle display area. This was effectively reaches a speed of about 1.3 MHz.
  • Another trick is to use the higher clock frequency with 40-character applications, was to using a floppy monitor ( an editor with which you can edit the data on a floppy disk byte by byte ) in the in a special block stored on disk meta information an application by setting a flag to switch the application to use the 80 - character mode. Even if so, the visual representation of the program was chaotic, some programs were able to not run it too, this resulted in computationally intensive applications such as the assembly language development kit geoProgrammer a practical use.

In the 90s also appeared for GEOS 128 special versions of alternative desktop interfaces TopDesk and Gateway as well as the upgrade Wheels.

For a general history of GEOS see the section on GEOS 64


After the success of UrGEOS C64 Apple II GEOS Berkeley Softworks in 1988 for the first appeared in 1982 and 1985 Apple II successor Apple / / e and Apple's portable computer was the Apple / / c was published. 1989 also appeared a GEOS version for the original Apple II with 128 KB of RAM (the corresponding memory expansion from a different manufacturer was not very common, with Apple's own components, the RAM limit of the old Apple II was 64 KB and GEOS was not available ). This version was a demo disk of GEOS for the Apple II clone " Sears laser 128Kbyte " at computer. Whether for Sears laser 128PC also appeared a GEOS full version has not yet been determined.

Since 1988/89, the Apple II line was already advanced in years, Apple's own, almost compatible Apple IIgs shipped with a much more powerful GUI, and the Apple Macintosh had begun its triumphant, Apple GEOS was not a big seller. There is no development tools were offered that might have to expand the range of software. The last Apple / / e were made ​​in 1993. In 1995, the sales and customer service for APPLE II GEOS pages of the now trade under the name " GeoWorks Corporation " manufacturer has been set.