March 30, 2004

DR DOS lives

Author: Joe Barr

I'm probably not the only one around who thought DR DOS had seen its last headline. But there it was, on Yahoo PR News: DR-DOS 8.0 Ships, Advancing DOS as the Best Embedded OS. The much-storied DR DOS is now part of the DeviceLogics product line. DeviceLogics is a startup firm in Lindon, Utah, which is also home to The SCO Group. The two firms share some history as well as locale.

The tale began in 1991, when Novell purchased what was left of Digital Research, including of course, DR DOS. In 1996, Bryan Sparks, with a little help from Novell's Ray Noorda, founded Caldera, Incorporated. Caldera promptly bought DR DOS from Novell, and then launched an ultimately successful antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. Successful in a financial sense, at least, as Microsoft settled the suit two weeks before it was scheduled to go to trial in January of 2000.

In 1998, Caldera, Incorporated split into two separate firms: Caldera Systems and Caldera Thin Clients. In 1999, Caldera Thin Clients changed its name to Lineo and moved into the embedded OS market. Caldera Systems -- using proceeds from the Microsoft DR DOS settlement -- purchased SCO Unix and UnixWare from SCO later in 2000.

Two years later, in recognition of the fact that most of its income was coming from proprietary Unix sales rather than Linux, Caldera Systems changed its name to the SCO Group. Also in 2002, Bryan Sparks co-founded a new firm called DeviceLogics, and promptly bought DR DOS for the second time.

Of course, as good as it was -- and obviously it was good enough to deeply trouble Bill Gates and company -- DR DOS was never as successful in the marketplace as it turned out to be in the courtroom. Perhaps it will find its niche in the embedded space. Bryan Sparks is betting it does. He is quoted in this week's announcement as saying, "DR-DOS is the fastest-to-market, the most reliable -- and with new FAT32 and Linux extensions -- the absolute best operation system for single-task embedded devices."

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