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back to article Ed Iacobucci: Brains behind OS/2 and Citrix, nicest guy in tech

About a year before air taxi DayJet was scheduled to launch, Ed Iacobucci, who died last week, called me up to make sure I was thoroughly briefed on what he was doing and how it worked. We spent over an hour on the phone, no PowerPoints, no marketing pitch, just Ed explaining, making sure I got it. It’s not normal for CEOs to do …

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A giant

Iacobucci is a largely unsung hero of the age of PCs. I was intimately involved in early development for OS/2 and the APIs showed a maturity that NT never achieved.

I was also a Citrix dealer and a shareholder early on. I made a little money on the stock, but chickened out and sold before it really took a jump up. Sigh.

Here's why being a dealer did not pan out: I did a presentation on this to Microsoft in Canada, preparatory to getting to some of its customers. They completely shot it down thus: It is not Microsoft's direction to go with thin clients. Flash forward 18 months and MS had their own product. What are the odds?

There were and still are some good guys high up in the ranks, but they are far and few between and history is always working against them. For the most part, in IT, the bad guys won. Ed was a happy exception.

RIP

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@btrower

"For the most part, in IT, the bad guys won."

I think it's not so much an issue of "bad guys" perse, but more so of people who have little to no affinity with ICT and the tech sector as a whole, and thus only approach things from a business perspective. And business can sometimes be ruthless, but that's just the way its supposed to be in my opinion.

Even so; I think it's that lack of understanding which makes those guys look like "bad guys". Simply because if you know their product by heart and then ask them something about it, even if its not too specific, they more than often cannot answer your question because in the end they know jack shit about it.

That's most likely also why the author could describe a situation where he could talk to the CEO without any marketing drones around. Simply because this CEO knew what he was talking about, thus didn't need any drones to shield him from specific questions.

Based on what I read so far I bet this was also the kind of guy who would easily tell you that he didn't know about a certain issue and only because of that would need to refer you to one of his colleagues. Compare that to what you get these days during presentations when people ask critical yet fair questions...

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J I

A sad loss

I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Iaccobuchi a few times when I was working for one of Citrix's first resellers in Japan, and can confirm that he was genuine, friendly, engaging, and highly knowledgable - very different from most people in senior positions in tech companies I've come across elsewhere. I am sorry to hear of his death, and am sure he will be sadly missed by all those who knew him.

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Citrix was a very important development.

In the 90's (and for much longer) I worked for a company that sold a fat client based claims processing application. Originally this software was developed for the THEOS OS and we sold a few AIX and SCO ports as well. Clearly those were thin client with THEOS more in the style of an IBM Mainframe. During this time the app was brought over to Windows because that was were our clients were headed. Depending on the size of the organization, rolling out installs and updates could be a really big issue. Enter Citrix. It was fantastic to not have to worry about why something worked fine on this machine but not that or have to deal with issues updating client machines. The published app and printer support made it all that much better. Though Citrix added cost to the application environment those who initially rejected it came around once the benefits became obvious.

Eventually Terminal Server offered proper printer support and that was the single largest factor that caused many of our clients to choose to skip the Citrix layer as early Terminal Server did not support printing. However, not all of the clients went that way with some continuing to use Citrix products. Winframe, Metaframe or by any other name that product made life much easier.

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I believe he would have had that belief in his company and disbelieve in Microsoft's ability to build Citrix into Windows. IIRC, Microsoft was saying they'd have it in NT in the next release( less than a 12 months,possibly 8 ). There was no way Microsoft was going to be able to do that and I was so confident of it and it being a ploy to threaten Citrix that I purchased lots of Citrix stock and sold it after the Microsoft deal finally went through. I should have purchased more but hindsight is always 20/20. I sold because I didn't think Citrix could survive losing the source code to Microsoft since that was part of the deal. But they have and have done well which was/is very rare in partnerships with Microsoft.

Sounds like Mr Lacobucci was a special person to have met. As for why they would have targetted OS/2 first, besides his background with it, it was a superior OS and ran circles around Windows NT 3.1 and even 4.0. Unfortunately we see all too often the best product does not survive good marketing and a death grip on a market.

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JLV
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Boffin

>OS/2 first ... it was a superior OS and ran circles around Windows NT 3.1 and even 4.0. Unfortunately we see all too often the best product does not survive good marketing and a death grip on a market.

Hmmm, much as I have little love for MS, I think what shot down OS/2 wasn't so much marketing as IBM trying to lock the ecosystem firmly back onto IBM hardware. At the beginning at least, I seem to recall that OS/2, by requiring IBM motherboards or at least proprietary buses, wasn't going to re-allow the whole compatible "fiasco" and IBM was going to reclaim its rightful spot in the sun.

MS kind of double-crossed IBM by pursuing its own Windows much more wholeheartedly than they did OS/2, but you kinda see why they wouldn't want to ditch their user base on IBM's say-so.

It could have been different, but IBM shot itself in the foot, rather than MS shooting it in the back as it is wont to.

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OS/2, by requiring IBM motherboards or at least proprietary buses

That requirement was dropped by OS/2 2.0 in 1992. While the first five years of OS/2 as a Microchannel-only OS no doubt did it some damage, the market for a multitasking PC OS was limited, due to CPU and RAM costs. While Windows 3.0 offered preemptive multitasking on PCs as far back as 1990, and Windows/386 2.1 as far back as 1988, that feature didn't see a lot of use (as far as I could tell at the time) simply because few people wanted to purchase systems capable of using it.

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Pint

OS/2 is still a superior OS - check out eComStation

Not to shift the subject from the sad news of Ed's passing, but particularly in light of the disastrous UI which has been foisted upon users of some other OS from Redmond, Washington, I am thankful that I spend my days immersed in the Workplace Shell, OS/2's "killer app."

OS/2 is now the core of eComStation, which has consistently improved upon the functionality and hardware compatibility of OS/2 Warp Server for eBusiness. eComStation 2.2 is now in beta, and due to be released soon. So, Ed's legacy lives on.

As a consultant in the US who does deploy Citrix solutions, I get a bit of a kick out of telling clients that Citrix started as an app to provide terminal services on OS/2.

Cheers, Ed, and thanks so much for getting us OS/2 users off to a great start.

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