Coherent

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Evandro Menezes

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Apr 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/6/98
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A while ago there was a Unix-like OS called Coherent. It was cheap
and came with everybody would assume there should be in a Unix-like
OS. However, I haven't heard of it for quite a long time. Does
anyone know its fate?

____________________________________________________________
Evandro Menezes Austin, TX USA
Tel:+1-512-502-9199 ICQ:7957253
mailto:eva...@geocities.com http://over.to/evandro

David Ness

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Apr 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/6/98
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Coherent (Mark Williams Co.) folded a couple of years ago.
The newsgroup `comp.os.coherent' still transacts a few messages
each week, and (apparently) there are still some Coherent systems
out there functioning quite well...

If you wan information I'd suggest probing the newsgroup, someone
might respond if you are patient...

lis...@zetnet.co.uk

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Apr 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/6/98
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On 1998-04-06 eva...@geocities.com(EvandroMenezes) said:
:A while ago there was a Unix-like OS called Coherent. It was cheap


:and came with everybody would assume there should be in a Unix-like
:OS. However, I haven't heard of it for quite a long time. Does
:anyone know its fate?

mark williams went bust, unfortunately, and as so many do, they didn't
leave coherent in the public domain before their demise. damned shame -
we wanted a copy...

when did they die? midway through our degree course - so 1995ish.(?)
--
Communa (together) we remember... we'll see you falling
you know soft spoken changes nothing to sing within her...

jsa...@freenet.edmonton.ab.ca

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Apr 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/7/98
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Evandro Menezes (die....@hell.org.us) wrote:
: A while ago there was a Unix-like OS called Coherent. It was cheap

: and came with everybody would assume there should be in a Unix-like
: OS. However, I haven't heard of it for quite a long time. Does
: anyone know its fate?

Considering that it cost $99, and was single user, it may have been driven
out of existence by the tough competition from Linux. And there are now
demo versions of QNX and a free single-user version of SCO...

plus, of course, given Microsoft's persuasion of Novell to drop DR-DOS,
perhaps being in the operating system business isn't worth it if it isn't
really profitable. The hardware, after all, keeps changing - it costs a
lot of money to produce working drivers for what's current.

John Savard
http://www.freenet.edmonton.ab.ca/~jsavard/

Michael Black

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Apr 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/7/98
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On Mon, 6 Apr 1998, Evandro Menezes wrote:

> A while ago there was a Unix-like OS called Coherent. It was cheap
> and came with everybody would assume there should be in a Unix-like
> OS. However, I haven't heard of it for quite a long time. Does
> anyone know its fate?
>

It was produced by the Mark Williams Company. I have a C-compiler for the
Atari ST and the manual with a 1986/87 copyright mentions Coherent.for the
IBM for $495.

I saw ads for it in BYTE, but I can't remember much more. I think it
might have dropped in price, and either there was a version for the ST, or
I wrote them suggesting that they make an ST version. Come to think of
it, if I did that then it had to be around till the early 90's at least.

In the eighties, there were plenty of attempts to produce Unix clones for
the small computers (and I'm not talking about Xenix). Some were
apparently a better emulation than others. I never tried any of them, but
it always seemed a bit suspicious that they could get the results for so
much less and on small computers. Remember, the computers back then were
small compared to today.

I suspect one of the reasons it faded away was because it never sustained
itself. I doubt there was much software written for it, so probably the
people who bought Coherent were interested in Unix for itself and in
re-compiling existing software or writing their own. It is rather a dead
end; I had OS9 (another "unix-like" operating system) for the Color
Computer back in 1984 and without cheap applications for it, there wasn't
much to use it for though it is a great operating system. So few would
buy the OS even if it was good. And without a market base, there was no
sense for companies to provide the application software. And so on.

Someone else mentioned Linux. Others might have seen it differently, but
I thought there was a big gap between Coherent being on the market and the
success of Linux. Of course, Linux could succeed where previous attempts
at Unix clones failed for a number of reasons. It being free, you didn't
have to start off spending money to get going. By the time Linux become
highly visible (ie after the people interested in the operating system and
recompiling existing software had there chance with it), the computers
readily available had plenty of memory and hard disk space. There were
presumably applications because people had been making software for it
because they wanted to, not because they wanted to earn money. Because it
all was free, Linux could survive until the time was right; whereas a
commercial product had to swim or sink.

I don't even know if the Mark Williams Company is still around.

Michael

Paul Grayson

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Apr 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/7/98
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>I saw ads for it in BYTE, but I can't remember much more. I think it
>might have dropped in price, and either there was a version for the ST, or
>I wrote them suggesting that they make an ST version. Come to think of
>it, if I did that then it had to be around till the early 90's at least.


I bought it in the early 90's (must be around 1991 - I bought it on 5.25"
floppys) from a dealer in the UK for approx 90UKP.

At that stage it ran on my humble 286/12 on a separate 10MB partition. I do
recall a later version being released which required a 386 or better, and
came with an X server. This was approximatly the same time as PC-Plus
slapped a copy of Linux on their cover CD - late 1993/early 1994?

I threw my copy into a skip about 18 months ago when my mother moved house.
All I can recall is that there was a serious limitation in program size due
to the memory model in use, but I remember some form of Emacs editor.

A Shelton

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Apr 7, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/7/98
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I never ran coherent, but I know it still existed when linux was
young. And that it doesn't exist any more (company went bust).

I remember it clearly because a lot of linux users were impressed by
(jealous of ?) the coherent manual. It had a fair number of technical
limitations, though I can't remember what they were.

--
Apparently I'm insane, but I'm one of the happy kinds. (dilbert)
Andrew Shelton ashe...@yallara.cs.rmit.edu.au
GCS(2.1)-d+H+sw+v-C++UL+>L+++E-N++WV--R++tv-b+D++e+fr*y?

Pete Fenelon

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Apr 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/9/98
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jsa...@freenet.edmonton.ab.ca wrote:
> Considering that it cost $99, and was single user, it may have been driven
> out of existence by the tough competition from Linux. And there are now
> demo versions of QNX and a free single-user version of SCO...

Minix put the lid on the coffin -- Linux started hammering in the nails.

pete
--
Pete Fenelon, 3 Beckside Gardens, York, YO10 3TX, UK (pete.f...@zetnet.co.uk)
``there's no room for enigmas in built-up areas''

Dennis Ritchie

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Apr 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/10/98
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An anecdote: sometime fairly early after the Mark Williams company
started offering their Coherent system (a Unix clone), some AT&T
legal people asked me to visit Mark Williams for purposes of determining
whether what they were offering was a rip-off (i.e. essentially
a copy) of the currently licensed Unix done by us. I find it
hard to reconstruct the date this happened, but it was a long
time ago; probably early 1980s. I went to Chicago with Otis
Wilson, who was then involved in Unix licensing.

It was a rather strange experience. The Mark Williams company
was a paint producer, and I was given to understand that
the subsidiary that was doing Coherent was, approximately,
a corporation arranged by a father who, approaching
retirement, had more or less shut down the older business
and was using the corporate name and legal setup to help
his son in a new venture.

Otis and I visited the offices of Mark Williams on the outskirts
of Chicago and were received with courtesy and some deference.
We talked to the father and the son (Bob Swartz, i.e. the guy
behind Coherent). There had been communication before, and
from their point of view we were like the IRS auditors coming
in. From my point of view, I felt the same, except that playing
that role was a new, and not particularly welcome, experience.
The locale of the company was in an industrial section and
it definitely retained the flavor of a the offices
of a paint company being recycled.

What I actually did was to play around with Coherent and look for
peculiarities, bugs, etc. that I knew about in the Unix distributions
of the time. Whatever legal stuff had been talked about in the
letters between MWC and AT&T didn't allow us to look at their source.
I'd made some notes about things to look for.

I concluded two things:

First, that it was very hard to believe that Coherent and its basic
applications were not created without considerable study of the
OS code and details of its applications.

Second, that looking at various corners convinced me that I couldn't
find anything that was copied. It might have been that some parts were
written with our source nearby, but at least the effort had been
made to rewrite. If it came to it, I could never honestly testify
that my opinion was that what they generated was irreproducible from
the manual.

I wrote up a detailed description of this. I can't find it, probably
because at the time I was advised that it was privileged lawyer/client
material. Partly at the time, partly thereafter, I learned that
a variety of Unix enthusiasts (several from U. Toronto) had spent
time there.

In the event, "we" (=AT&T) backed off, possibly after other
thinking and investigation that I'd wasn't involved in.

So far as I know, after that MWC and Coherent were free to offer
their system and allow it to succeed or fail in the market.

I suppose there's a second story about the suit by USL against
BSDI and then UCB, but my own involvement was far tinier
and didn't get me a trip to Falls Church or Berkeley to snoop.
What advice I offered in this situation was exactly in line with
that about MWC/Coherent, and as it turned out the resolution
(though more costly for all) was pretty much the same.

(As a capper, Bob Swartz came by Bell Labs a week or so ago,
and we had a pleasant social visit.)

Dennis

Will Rose

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Apr 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/12/98
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Pete Fenelon (pe...@fenelon.zetnet.co.uk) wrote:

: jsa...@freenet.edmonton.ab.ca wrote:
: > Considering that it cost $99, and was single user, it may have been driven
: > out of existence by the tough competition from Linux. And there are now
: > demo versions of QNX and a free single-user version of SCO...

: Minix put the lid on the coffin -- Linux started hammering in the nails.

Well, maybe. The real killer was Coh's lack of support for TCP/IP; that
was a problem with Minix as well. Coh had a 32-bit version out pretty
early, and if they'd had networking, I think they'd have given Linux a
pretty good run, and in fact established a viable niche market for
themselves.


Will
c...@crash.cts.com


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