I Wanna Be Like David Barnes

Monday, June 4th, 2012

David Barnes is one of those rare people that, if you ever met, you would never forget.  He has worked for IBM for a number of years, appeared in IBM commercials, and he was a self-described “OS/2 Evangelist”.  He now has some kind of lead position with IBM and their Web 2.0 initiatives.  Without this guy, there is no telling how far OS/2 would’ve gone.  OS/2 went far, but not by IBM’s standards.  If it was a smaller company, OS/2 would be considered a phenomenal success.

So, why did OS/2 not succeed?  Well, there were many theories.  Some say that Microsoft forced their hand when they parted ways.  Some say that IBM’s marketing machine sucked.  Some say that IBM wanted to use OS/2 primarily as a vehicle to sell IBM hardware.  I’ve even heard a theory that OS/2 was just too compatible with DOS and Windows, so people didn’t write software specifically for OS/2.  But, whatever the reason for OS/2 failure, it wasn’t a failure on the part of David Barnes.  If everyone in the United States could see the demonstration of David Barnes running OS/2, we would probably be using OS/3 or OS/2 version 8 today.  This guy was simply a technical marvel when it came to demonstrating OS/2.  What was even more amazing is that he could crash OS/2 and make us think that it was a good thing (so he could demonstrate how well OS/2 recovered from a crash).

David has my deepest respect.  I wish I had a little bit of what he has.  The following video is from a HAL-PC (Houston-Area League of PC users) .  It is from an event call the NT-OS/2 Shootout.  You have a representative from Microsoft demonstrating the yet-to-be-released  NT 3.something vs. the already released IBM OS/2 2.1.  The Microsoft representative didn’t seem up to the task of competing with David Barnes.  He came off as nervous.  He was also rather spiteful with some off-topic questions directly to David Barnes at the Q&A session at the end.  For instance, when David was answering a question from someone regarding SCSI cards and 16-bit and 32-bit device drivers, the Microsoft guy quips back asking David if OS/2 can run 32-bit Windows software (keep in mind that NT hasn’t been released at this point, the only thing Microsoft had was the Win32s run-time library for Windows 3.1).  David, in his off-the-cuff manner, quipped back that no, it does not.  Then he named the three software programs that needed this functionality.

Two of my favorite people of the computer revolution are Peter Norton and Gary Kildall.  I would have to say that I put David Barnes in this category.  He has what nerds like myself always wished they could have: a fearless presence.  Do yourself a favor.  Take a little time out of the day and watch the video below.  Oh, and by the way (which is a term you’ll hear David say quite often), Microsoft made sure the video below never saw the light of day back in 1993.  They wouldn’t allow HAL-PC to use it as a promotional video with the Microsoft portion still in tact.  However, the person who posted it to YouTube had one of the secret copies.  The event is from June 4, 1993, exactly 19 years to the day before this post.

Official Guide to Using OS/2® Warp
OS/2 Warp 4.0 CD-ROM
OS/2 Warp Version 3 – DOS/Windows 3.1 (3.5 inch Disks)
OS 2 WARP beats Windows 4.0 to market. (IBM’s third version of its 32-bit operating system): An article from: Trial


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