Taligent and The Software Golden Fleece


I’ve always been fascinated by the software project Taligent created in the ’80s or early ’90s. It was started by IBM, HP, Microsoft, and Apple and the idea was to create an operating system foundation that all these platforms could use. Also immediately Microsoft exited the project, leaving only IBM, HP, and Apple.

Many years ago I read a copy of the project documentation set in a book store chain I worked at. Looking back may of the concepts and look-and-feel created in the project clearly influenced Mac OS 9, OS/2, Sun OpenWindows/Look. I remember thinking OpenLook was really cool back in the old days at Northeaster, working on Sun Microsystems pizza-box workstations.

Now reading the book “Inside Taligent Technology” by Sean Coffer, it really seems like they were spinning the golden thread of operating system interface design. They were far ahead of the curve and with a few exception were doing everything we consider normal interface design today, maybe even a few things better. The interface looks an operates like a better Mac OS 9 interface. The underlying OS seems to have expected parallel processing/threading. The semantics are good and the interface controls are obvious. More obvious than some controls today.

If I could have a dream O/S it would be Plan 9 with a complete POSIX layer, full GNU tools build and the Taligent user interface. Plan 9’s interface is confusing even for seasoned systems/software engineers.

[Inside Taligent Technology]

[Parts of a Window]

[Taligent Chat]

Tags: development design

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