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IBM's OS/2 celebrates 25 year anniversary, still alive if you know where to look

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IBM's ill-fated operating system OS/2 turns 25 this month, but it's not as dead as you might think.


It was 25 years ago that IBM and Microsoft first launched the OS/2 operating system, which managed to live a long life without ever really catching on with the mainstream. As Time points out in its lengthy rundown of the platform's history, OS/2 went through a number of iterations over the years, and while many large businesses adopted it, it always fell short of Windows when it came to consumer adoption — but that doesn't mean it didn't have its share of fans.

Tech writer Esther Schindler notes that ahead-of-their-time features like multitasking led many to fall in love with the ill-fated OS/2. "We were certain, absolutely certain, that nothing would be the same again," she wrote. "The closest I can come to it was the reaction after the first iPhone was released: the sense that It's all different now."

Of course, we now know that things didn't work out quite so well, and the OS was officially discontinued in 2005 (though support had begun to dry up long before then). However, you can still find machines running OS/2 — and not just in the garages of enthusiasts. In fact, a number of large-scale companies still utilize the OS: New York City uses it for swiping fare cards, Safeway uses it for its supermarket checkouts, and even certain types of ATMs still run OS/2. As it's shown over its tumultuous but lengthy life, OS/2 isn't easy to kill — even when it's not for sale anymore.