|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
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,
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.