OS/2 Videos, 1987

In the summer and fall of 1987, Microsoft organized several developer conferences for prospective OS/2 ISVs (Seattle, Jun 2-4; New York City, Jul 7-9; LA, Sept 21-24; Dallas, Oct 20-23). Seats at these conferences were included in the price of the infamous $3,000 OS/2 SDK.

Among other things, the OS/2 SDK owners received a set of eight VHS tapes with pre-recorded presentations, as well as a hardcopy of the presentation slides. A quarter of a century later, the OS/2 Museum made the tapes available in digitized form for viewing in HTML 5 video format (H.264 and WebM).

After more than two decades, some of the presentations are more interesting than others. Steve Ballmer’s introduction (segment A) may be the most historically significant, though Manny Vellon’s Windows vs. Windows Presentation Manager (segment M) is also worth watching and may include the first demonstration of Windows 2.0, months before its release. Anyone interested in the history of Microsoft’s networking products shouldn’t miss Darryl Rubin’s LAN Manager presentation (segment O). One of the speakers was also Gordon Letwin, the chief architect of OS/2 at Microsoft; his presentations are fairly technical and explain much about the design of OS/2. The individual talks were presented by Dennis Tillman.

It’s not entirely clear when these tapes were recorded; it was likely around June 1987. The technology used (VHS tape in NTSC format), and to a lesser extent the age of the tapes, limit the resolution, sharpness, and color accuracy of the videos. Nevertheless, the audio is clear and the video quality is sufficient for the presentation slides to be legible.


Conference attendees were given two ring binders with a hardcopy of all presentation slides, about 700 pages total. The printouts included ample space for taking notes.

Microsoft OS/2 Developer’s Conference, Volume 1
Microsoft OS/2 Developer’s Conference, Volume 2

Tape 1

A. Introduction (Steve Ballmer: 37:50)
B. Overview of OS/2 (Mark Mackaman: 42:40)

Tape 2

C. System Foundation (Gordon Letwin: 56:51)
D. I/O Services and the Family API (Anthony Short: 46:56)

Tape 3

E. Introduction to the User Interface (Manny Vellon: 42:48)
F. OS/2 Device Drivers (Mark Zbikowski: 31:50)

Tape 4

G. OS/2 Programming Model (John Pollock: 32:00)
H. Application Architecture (Mel Kanner: 57:50)

Tape 5

I. OS/2 Design Concepts (Gordon Letwin: 42:00)
J. Building Your Application—The Mechanics (Mel Kanner: 62:27)

Tape 6

K. OS/2 Application Services (John Pollock: 42:00)
L. Support Services (Kent Sander: 17:54)
M. Windows 2.0 vs. Windows Presentation Manager (Manny Vellon: 55:06)

Tape 7

N. Device-independent Graphics for OS/2 (John Butler: 118:34)

Tape 8

N. Device-independent Graphics for OS/2 (continued) (John Butler: 21:00)
O. LAN Manager (Darryl Rubin: 77:00)

4 Responses to OS/2 Videos, 1987

  1. Jack says:

    $3,000 dollars OS/2 1.0 SDK Kit price was too high in 1987, In 2018 price will be $6,000 dollars in today Money. OS/2 1.0 in 1987 lack a GUI and it looked liked MS-DOS that was problem. OS/2 1.0 in 1987 run in Intel 286 protective mode that was problem too. While Windows 2.00 in 1987 have GUI and can run Intel 386 v86 mode. Windows 2.00 beat OS/2 1.00 in performed. The first Popular Windows Applications was Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel for Windows 2.00. Windows 2.0 was successful went people started was writing new Applications for windows at time. On OS/2 side $3,000 dollars price tag stop more people from writing OS/2 Applications at time few people was making OS/2 Applications. There more Applications for Windows 2.00 than Windows 1.01 and OS/2 1.00. People will all said first successful Windows 3.00 these people overlooked Windows 2.00 successes. Windows 2.0 did lay first the seed what killed OS/2 before OS/2 become popular, second and Third seed came as Windows 3.00 and Windows 95 what did killed OS/2 in end. Today OS/2 lived on as ecomstation and ATM Machines used OS/2 Operation Systems. First part of video his talk about MS-DOS Manager. Second part of Video his talk about Windows 2.00 Beta.

  2. Michal Necasek says:

    Yes, $3,000 was a lot of money, but if you think developers needed to pay that much to develop for OS/2, you are way off. By March 1988 or so, Microsoft C 5.1 was available, with support for both DOS and OS/2, and for a lot less (in the $500 range, which clearly even people developing exclusively for DOS didn’t consider too much). Other compilers were available as well.

    Windows/386 in 1987 was great… for the tiny percentage of users who had a 386. There was no real market for a 386-only OS at the time, heck it was only Windows 3.1 in 1992 that dropped 8086 support. There were so, so many 386 products in the late 1980s, and the one that did best in the end was… a 16-bit GUI called Windows.

  3. Ville H. says:

    The videos are apparently offline. Are they coming back or could they be hosted on e.g. Vimeo/Youtube?

  4. Michal Necasek says:

    They are coming back.

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