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Citrix Founder and Key OS/2 Player Ed Iacobucci Dead At 59 98

alphadogg writes "Ed Iacobucci, whose work on OS/2 at IBM helped fuel the PC craze and whose efforts at Citrix and VirtualWorks aimed to bring computing back under control, has died at the age of 59 from pancreatic cancer. Born in Argentina and schooled in systems engineering at Georgia Tech, Iacobucci got his career start in 1979 at IBM, where he held architecture and design leadership roles involving PC operating systems OS/2 and DOS, working closely with Microsoft in doing so (and later turned down a job there). Iacobucci left 10 years later to start thin-client/virtualization company Citrix, followed by creation of on-demand jet company DayJet, and most recently VirtualWorks, a company dedicated to managing big data sprawl. He stepped down as CEO of VirtualWorks in May because of his health."
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Citrix Founder and Key OS/2 Player Ed Iacobucci Dead At 59

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  • I didn't mention it in my blog post, but yes Citrix was a major victim of the MS OS/2 2.0 fiasco. It is hardly the worse of it though. Look up "OS/2 Microsoft Munchkins", and remember that wasn't the only unethical attack MS tried against OS/2 later on, which got worse as Chicago (Windows 95) was delayed. Not to mention DR-DOS too (remember OS/2 never depended on DOS).

    • Speaking of Chicago . . .

      Team OS/2 went external that spring, when the first Team OS/2 Party was held in Chicago. The IBM Marketing Office in Chicago created a huge banner visible from the streets. Microsoft reacted when Steve Ballmer roamed the floor with an application on diskette that had been specially programmed to crash OS/2; and OS/2 enthusiasts gathered for an evening of excitement at the first Team OS/2 party. []

      After hearing that story, soon after it happened, I was never surprised by anything else that he has done since then. It just showed me the "content of his character", as MLK used to say.

      • After hearing that story, soon after it happened, I was never surprised by anything else that he has done since then. It just showed me the "content of his character", as MLK used to say.

        Ballmer is the G. Gordon Liddy of computing. He makes about as much sense when they let him talk, too.

        • Well, I've met Liddy, sat with him and Tim Leary over a couple of pitchers (Lizard's Underground, East Lansing, ~1982). He talks just fine, or did, back then. As for Ballmer? I dunno, never met him. Don't care much for what I see of him, tho.

    • Bah. I hate history when retold by those who lost. MS battled against OS/2 and won, yes, but unethical? No. MS just had the resources and will to play dirty, and evidently IBM did not. That's just modern business and honestly I think most companies nowadays, whether they be MS, Apple or the open-source fan's champion Google, would do exactly the same "unethical" actions necessary to win against the competition.

      • MS was unethical because they were paid to develop OS/2 in the first place and used that position to, against the terms of the agreement they signed, copy the best features into their own OS AND to write the original OS/2 so as to make it work less well than it could have.

        That being said, ultimately the failure of OS/2 resulted from IBM's original attempt to keep PCs from advancing beyond the 80286 chip. While they abandoned that position, it left them with a major PR hurdle that they were never able to o
        • See, I can accept that. At least you see OS/2's failure as being more than just due to Microsoft's actions. Same thing with Internet Explorer vs Netscape really. People say MS muscled Netscape out with IE being free and bundled with new computers/Windows. But by the time IE 4 came around it WAS better (in performance at least) compared to Netscape Communicator at the time. Heck, I use Firefox now but I distinctly remember using IE by choice because of how much better it was at the time. Netscape just didn't

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            That was the the thing with Microsoft, they could have behaved fairly ethically and between IBM shooting themselves and the luck of ram prices staying high they would have won the desktop but they still behaved very unethically.
            With IE vs Netscape, Microsoft making IE free meant that Netscape couldn't sell their browser and with no income coming in they obviously couldn't compete and fell behind the company that could afford to spend lots of money on a freebie.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            The problem with the ethics behind IE is that they fused it into the OS and repeatedly claimed it could not be separated out.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        No, that's just unethical behavior enshrined. If most businesses would do that then most businesses are unethical and should have their charters revoked.

    • Bullshit, as somebody in the trenches MSFT didn't do anything but capitalize on some seriously DUMB SHIT moves by IBM.

      IBM tried to fuck the OEMs over with MCA bus and then followed that with crazy prices for copies of OS/2 to try to force themselves back into the market leader position, the OEMs rightly looked at OS/2 like an STD and stayed the hell away from it. Intel refused to allow second sources for 386 and later (which is why Intel and AMD ended up in court and why the AMD 386 and 486 didn't come out

  • Let's hope this starts the downfall of all Centralised Desktop Terror Computing (CDTC, t/m); too many people have been forced into utter frustration and unproductiveness for far too long already by SuckTricks and like products.

    • by Z34107 ( 925136 )

      It's great for what it is. The healthcare industry uses it heavily because 1) it's cheaper to deploy a thousand thin clients than a thousand Dell boxxen 2) the thin clients are more likely to fit into a cramped nurses' station, and 3) running the application remotely means no PHI is sitting on a public-facing terminal, and 4) it's easier to manage and update a handful of Citrix servers.

      But, the man's dead, and you're posting shit like "SuckTricks." If you're the age your UID implies and that's the full ex

      • Aha, a karma whore. Well, I might be mentally retarded in your view, but that mostly just gives good insight on your own mental capacities ...
        You are probably too young and unexperienced to have seen the fallout of the first ten years of centralised computing on Windows platforms, it was hell, outright hell.
        Properly implemented centralised computing can be good for a few scenarios, like the one you mentioned. Problem is that Citrix has taken around 10 years to come anywhere close to maturity, but has been

  • Sad loss. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 22, 2013 @02:00AM (#44076901)

    He did many good works; but by no measure did OS/2 "fuel the PC craze"... (Unless you're defining "craze" as "insane mass-market failures.")

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zedrick ( 764028 )
      Oh yes it did. I'm guessing you're just too young to remember. Thanks to massive os/2 tv campaigns, "normal" people suddenly wanted a computer, not just a console to play games on
      • Re:Sad loss. (Score:4, Informative)

        by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @03:55AM (#44077163)

        Oh yes it did. I'm guessing you're just too young to remember. Thanks to massive os/2 tv campaigns, "normal" people suddenly wanted a computer, not just a console to play games on

        Perhaps you are thinking of PS/2, the computer, a followup to the IBM PC?

        OS/2 was an operating system and few people used its 16-bit 1.x incarnation. Microsoft was IBM's partner is OS/2 development. Microsoft tried to get people to move from MS-DOS to OS/2 1.x and failed. They then thought what the hell lets deliver that OS/2 1.x Presentation Manager GUI as a layer on top of MS-DOS. We'll call it MS Windows. OK, that was a little simplified yet basically accurate.

        MS Windows was meant to be a stop gap, something temporary until users could be migrated to OS/2 from MS-DOS. Microsoft touted how compatible the APIs were, how easy it would be to port your Windows code to OS/2. It actually kind of was. However MS Windows really took off in popularity and MS rethought things, thought they might go it alone. IBM was working on the 32-bit Intel specific OS/2 2.0 and in parallel MS was working on the cross platforms successor version of OS/2, OS/2 NT. OS/2 NT got renamed Windows NT when MS and IBM "divorced".

        OS/2 2.0 shipped, did a little better than 1.x but still it was a very minor player. MS successfully FUD'd OS/2 2.0 and got most users to wait just a little bit longer for Windows 95. Failing to deliver OS/2 development tools helped as well, delaying the availability of native apps.

        So, no. No matter how many OS/2 TV commercials IBM ran it did not drive many people to OS/2.

        • by Xenna ( 37238 )

          You got the time frame wrong.
          When OS/2 appeared Windows was already in use.
          So OS/2 was competing with Windows from the start.

          • You got the time frame wrong. When OS/2 appeared Windows was already in use. So OS/2 was competing with Windows from the start.

            16-bit OS/2 1.x predated Windows (well Win 3.0, not sure about the Win 1.0 or 2.0 that no one used). 32-bit OS/2 2.0 was a contemporary of 16-bit Win 3.1 and predated 32-bit Win 95.

        • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

          os/2 provided a "pro" operating system on the hardware.

          so you could buy the hardware.. and often end up noticing that it's fine enough with windows. that's why os/2 tanked.

        • Microsoft never had any intention of migrating people to OS/2 because IBM controlled the IP rights to OS/2 in a way that they did not with DOS. From the beginning Windows was intended to compete with OS/2. There were two sides to the story of what led to the break up between MS and IBM. On one hand, IBM insisted that the first version of OS/2 be written so as to limit its ability to be ported beyond the 80286 (I believe there were a few other strategic decisions made by IBM in the development of OS/2 that M
          • Microsoft never had any intention of migrating people to OS/2 because IBM controlled the IP rights to OS/2 in a way that they did not with DOS. From the beginning Windows was intended to compete with OS/2.

            That is not what Microsoft was telling developers in the early days. I got to watch some Microsoft OS/2 developer training videos at work. They clearly told us that Windows was a temporary bridge to ease/facilitate the ultimate transition to OS/2.

            which at the time was Win95

            I am referring to things way before Win95. In the earliest days of Win 3, maybe even a little before the commercial release of Win 3.

            • You are correct about the OS dates. However, the key factor in the failure of OS/2 was IBM's decision to attempt to limit it to the 80286 chip and keep PC development from adopting 80386 chips and later. From the time of that decision, MS began to subvert development of OS/2 and plan to release its own OS based on the same ideas.
        • well, you're reiterating the IBM retro-history a little there. Microsoft had a huge role in developing the 32b 2.0, but the main problem was that IBM wanted to take it in the direction of huge, ramified mini/mainframe OSs. to my way of thinking, Linux is actually the proving counterexample of what was bad about OS/2 2.0: modularity and conceptual layering, but without the sclerosis of insisting that modules/layering be reflected in explicit, static APIs.

          I worked on OS/2 1.3 and 2.0 at Microsoft. It was v

          • Don't get me wrong. I thought OS/2 1.x was far better than DOS and OS/2 2.0 better than Win 3.1. OS/2 2.0's contemporary was Win 3.1 not Win NT. However I preferred Windows NT to OS/2 2.0.

            I loved how the retail Windows NT 4 CD shipped with Intel, MIPS, Alpha and PowerPC binaries. In grad school the architecture class was focusing on Alpha. Personally I was looking forward to CHRP systems (PowerPC) that would boot either Windows NT or Mac OS. Strange how both operating systems came to eventually exists on
        • Oh yes it did. I'm guessing you're just too young to remember. Thanks to massive os/2 tv campaigns, "normal" people suddenly wanted a computer, not just a console to play games on

          I'm certainly not "too young to remember". I wish.

          It was a different world then. There wasn't an internet to immediately find out that some marketing term was full of shit. If five percent of the population at the time could distinguish OS/2 from PS/2 I'd be shocked. The one thing people knew for certain is that IBM never went

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          The ps/2 inspired mostly laughter amongst the masses when they saw how it's price compared to a better clone. They only managed to sell them through under the table deals and having a non-standard length power cord that could be required in an RFQ.

      • Thanks to massive os/2 tv campaigns, "normal" people suddenly wanted a computer, not just a console to play games on

        I *cared* about OS/2 and I never saw a single commercial. And I was an avid TV watcher back then. How massive were these TV campaigns supposed to be?

        I have never, ever heard "OS/2" on the lips of anyone but total nerds, usually total nerds who should have known better than to fuck with OS/2 and are still bitter about it.

        • by tchdab1 ( 164848 )

          I second that. I read the above regarding "massive OS/2 TV campaigns" and wondered what planet that was on because I never saw any.

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          For a while around the release of Warp v3 there was quite a few commercials. Better DOS then DOS, better Windows then Windows type of ads are what I remember. The local drugstore even had a bin of Warp CDs for $50 apiece.
          Unluckily they screwed up by claiming it would work decently with 4MBs of ram.

  • I'm not a citrix user, I was only mildly interested in OS/2, but nevertheless both those things are interesting achievements, and should be recognised as such.
    And 59 is way to young to die.


  • This guy created Citrix? Sounds like they'll need to build a whole new nastier level of hell to accommodate him. Citrix is one of the worst products ever made. Years later and it's still clearly nothing more than a nasty hack. Give me a Citrix box and I'll give you back a p0wned box. As for OS/2, well that just makes me sad.

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      Years later it's still clearly nothing more than a nasty hack.

      Sometimes a hack is what you need, and it's the difference between being able to accomplish the goal, and not being able. But key is "years later." Now Citrix is irrelevant, but 20 years ago it let you do things which otherwise simply couldn't be done, and "p0wned" is largely a non-issue when talking about machines not connected to the Internet.

      Let's say it's 1994 and you have a legacy MS-DOS application where porting it to Linux or whatever is

  • First Gandolfini and now Iacobucci.

    I hope someone's looking into any connection. Pavarotti better watch his ass.

  • ...and deserved to be successful. It never quite made it though...and it wasn't the Microsoft grassroots attacks that did it in, at least not directly. No, it was IBM and, more specifically, Lou Gerstner (the IBM CEO at the time), who publicly admitted that a few years later right before he retired. People have wondered for years about the WHY of that. Gerstner disdainfully referred to "desktop operating systems" as something that was detracting from IBM's image so perhaps the reason was simple corpor

    • That and probably the fact that they priced it outrageously. OS/2 2.0 was great, OS 2 3.0 even better then ultimately WARP but by then Windows and Windows NT were eroding the marketplace. I've spent years writing software for Windows and OS/2 and technically in some areas, OS/2 was much better and in others, not so much. IBM didn't really push the home consumer market but they were big in the corporate world where they still sold a lot of mid-range and mainframe systems. That and a lot of Token Ring cr

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        They did eventually lower the price. Redbox Warp 3 was being sold at London drugs (Canadian store) for $50 around '95. No manual but it was a refreshed build so supported IDE CDROMs and PPP and was much more likely to install. At least here it installed with minimal problems (had to do it again to get sound support). Currently the price is comparable to Windows boxed, I paid about $100 for the upgrade.

        • Oh yeah they cut the prices but also 3 and 4 were great Operating Systems. I still have a Version 4 Warp VM for a few apps I still keep around but as history tells us now, it was too late at least in the Consumer world for OS/2. Windows had already won because IBM ceded that market to them even though they were vulnerable with products like Windows ME and nasty anti-trust legal woes.

          A long time ago they demonstrated they didn't really want to be in the commodity PC business, an industry that they had lead

  • But Citrix will probably last longer than the pyramids. It's impossible to ever kill an application that shitty. The only way to make it worse would be to run Lotus Notes on it. "Yeah, our corporate E-Mail system is Lotus Notes, run over Citrix..." *runs screaming from the building.*
    • I've actually have to do that, and even wrote it up at one point. I hate Lotus Notes, and not being designed for a multi-user environment you had to jump through hoops to get it to run right. Which unfortunately is where Citrix gets a lot of hate from. 'Admins' who don't know how to configure the environment, poor corporate policies, and forcing applications that shouldn't be run on it, to run on it. It's one of those platforms where people think 'well I have a hammer' and everything looks like a nail.
      • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        Citrix very much reminds me of using a desktop computer to connect via dialup to a 300bps machine. I'm using my fast, good computer as a dumb terminal to a slow crappy computer. Except that typically the manufacturer of the 300bps machine knew their interface was slow and would at least try to design the applications to make that as unobtrusive as possible.
  • I still have a boxed copy of OS\2 Warp, and probably an old enough computer somewhere around here to run it. As recently (recently... yea right) as 2000 I worked for a company that maintained old IBM mainframes running system 390. It was always fun to watch engineers crack one open only to see that there was an OS/2 workstation crammed in the middle. I think I just might take it for a spin as a tribute.
  • OS/2 is still used in many ATMs, although flavors of Windows are finally making major inroads in that market.

    The place where I work once had a US Gov issued "black box" server on our network, doing data compare tasks that are of no major import but the agency responsible mandated that this work had to happen on their PC. So they supplied the box. It had all the IO blocked and the case was sprayed with a bed liner material to seal the seams and cracks. The only open connections were power, ethernet, VGA

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"