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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved

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TripOS/68k

Developer: Cambridge University/MetaComCo
Year of Development: 1983/4

Few people have heard of TripOS outside the Amiga market. As a standalone operating system it is unremarkable, however its relation to the AmigaOS makes it interesting. TripOS was developed at Cambridge University on an IBM 3081 (or an earlier IBM mainframe) running a locally-written OS called Phoenix during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The name is derived from the course description at the university. For example, it is possible to read for the mathematics tripos. It is also possible that the 'pos' suffix stood for Portable Operating System.

At some point during the early 1980s Dr. Tim King ported the OS to the Motorola 68k. The operating system exists on a range of platform during this period, including the PDP11, DG Nova, 68000 (a homebrew 68k machine?), and the GA-16/220.

The story continues at Commodore in 1984. They had recently bought the Amiga technology and were preparing it for a mainstream market. Development had fallen behind schedule, particularly in the development of the original operating system, dubbed CAOS. This prompted fears that Atari would beat them to the 16-bit market with their off-the-shelf ST range. In a series of meetings it was decided that an outside developer would be contracted to complete the task, abandoning large sections of the existing OS. MetaComCo were chosen as the contractor, as a result of their existing TripOS 68k port. It was a minor task to get the operating system to work on the Amiga prototypes, but required some time to get it to interact with Intuition.

Reports of the time period indicate that the Los Gatos team, led by Jay Miner, were unhappy with the decision and openly criticised the end result. In particular, the TripOS/Intuition hybrid lacked many of the features they had planned (resource-tracking, etc.).

A large portion of the TripOS  code continued to exist in the Dos.Library, until it was replaced in v36 by a combination of assembler & C. However, the ghost of TripOS could not be exorcised and a small amount of the code lives on in the later AmigaOS releases to ensure compatibility.
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