First Ever OS Installed From CD

In the spring of 1993, while Scott was working at IBM Research in Yorktown Heights NY he managed a group that developed and supported an OS/2 application plIBM-DTK-OS2-21atform. One morning before work while watching the Today show Scott learned that Philips was about to bring a consumer CD burner to market, with a list price of $6,000. At this point, the only way to burn a CD was using a Sony solution that cost over $25,000. After justifying the expense to his management, the hunt was on for Scott to find a vendor willing to sell him the product, remember this was before the Internet and Google. Scott located a Philips Value Added Reseller in Atlanta who would provide not only the burner, but also the DOS software, and blank CDs. At that time blank CDROMs were $45 each, were made from real gold, and this price required that you buy at least 100 at a time.

The CD Mastering software was real 1.0 code running on DOS, and it would often take Scott three or four tries to successfully burn a single CD. Scott’s initial objective was to build a CD using a menu system the OS/2 Tools team had developed for installing software over the network. These CDs would then enable him to provide installation from CD for other sites that wanted to use Watson’s OS/2 CORE Platform.

Ten years earlier while in college Scott had experimented with bootloaders on floppies and had looked very carefully at how TRSDOS, LDOS, NewDOS and others had worked. Scott used this knowledge to explore how OS/2 loaded. The BIOS on IBM’s PS/2 line of computers at that time didn’t support booting from CD so a single floppy was required. Scott crafted an OS/2 lite boot diskette that would load enough drivers from the floppy so that the hard disk, video, and CDROM devices could be recognized and used. At this point, Scott enlisted another member of his team, Damien Scott, who provided the final piece of code to trick OS/2 into thinking that the CDROM was the second floppy drive and from that point on it was trivial to finish the installation. This process enabled someone to receive a single OS/2 CD, and from this disc, they could create the necessary boot floppy and install OS/2. Before this process, OS/2 required 12 floppies to install.

Next Scott worked with Tom Rogers, also from IBM Watson’s OS/2 Tools group, to adapt his menu application for installing programs from a network drive to installing them from a CD drive. This would enable Scott to distribute a single CD with OS/2, and all the programs someone might want so, researchers could then install systems more easily regardless of where they were. All this progress caught the attention of IBM’s OS/2 group in Boca Raton Florida.

John Soyring, then IBM’s VP of Personal Software Products, requested that Scott technically lead a team in Boca to build something he envisioned as the OS/2 Professional Developers Kit. So Scott and Dameon, as his wingman and right hand, packed their bags for several weeks and delivered the first-ever OS/2 Professional Develop’s Kit (PDK).PCWeek Dameon knew the menu system better than almost anyone except its author, Tom Rogers. Scott handled content aggregation, documentation, packaging, mastering, and duplication. Dameon handled menus, miscellaneous scripting, and testing. The VAR in Atlanta had a CD press and could turn out 100s of copies an hour within 6-24 hours of receiving a master CDR from Scott. John Soyring had a busy show schedule that fall, and on several occasions, we were shipping out CDRs on commercial flights as cargo via Delta Dash. Soyring would receive product level, and volume copies, often thousands of CDs, only several days after a master was burned in Boca and shipped to Atlanta for duplication. At on point early in the process, the OS/2 PDK CD contained 43 floppies. All of IBM’s programming languages, OS/2 tools, networking tools, editors, a version of MS Windows that could co-exist with OS/2, IBM’s equivalent of the OS/2 kitchen sink.

One would think that figuring out how to install an operating system from CD, something that had never done before, and for creating the first ever OS/2 Professional Developer’s Kit would have been worthy of an IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement (OTA) award. Scott would have to wait five more years and switch divisions before he received an OTA. After the dust settled, and a little pressure from IBM Watson Research, Boca’s OS/2 group, came up with PC Company Divisional Awards for Scott, Damien, and Tom, for their work with the OS/2 Team and production of the PDK.