Reprinted from Popular Computing, issue 2/85, pp. 22.
Still another entry in the complicated operating environments field has surfaced, but this time around,
Digital Research may have come up with a winner. Its GEM (Graphics Environment Manager) brings a
standard graphics user interface to any computer running under MS-DOS or the firm’s
Concurrent DOS in DOS mode.
The GEM environment allows for overlapping windows, use of a mouse, pulldown menus, icons, and
data transfer among programs. In other words, it works a lot like Apple’s Macintosh user
interface. In fact, GEM Desktop, DRI’s first GEM software application, looks a lot like the
screen display that the Mac made famous.
In addition, GEM supports the graphics standard recently endorsed by IBM, so it can use a variety of
graphics devices that the Mac doesn’t yet support. You still have the familiar A> prompt
and traditional file directories if you want, and any MS-DOS applications program can run under
the GEM Desktop.
Unfortunately, however, you can’t buy GEM or GEM Desktop – the products are available only bundled
with hardware or with other software products. Digital Research will bundle both GEM and the Desktop
with three presentation graphics programs scheduled for release in early 1985 – GEM Draw, GEM
Wordchart, and GEM Graph. And naturally, the firm hopes other software vendors will bundle GEM
with their software. DRI is offering an inexpensive toolkit for developing such programs.
GEM will compete with IBM’s Topview and Microsoft Windows. Topview will be a multitasking
environment running only on IBM PCs with large amounts of memory. GEM, which runs only one application
at a time, can work on smaller computers, including the PCjr.
In the meantime, Microsoft has rescheduled its Windows environment again, now saying it hopes
to release the product in June. Microsoft said it delayed the already-late product to make it work
faster and run on a machine with 256K bytes of memory. In the long run, the success of Windows,
Topview, and GEM will depend upon the support they gather from independent software