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Digital Research's Graphics Enviroment Manager was a very popular GUI for DOS, until Windows came along and pounded it into the ground. It was first announced in 1984 and subsequently released in 1985. There were a number of third-party applications made for it, and the GEM Desktop eventually was used in ViewMAX, the graphical file manager for DR-DOS.

GEM 1.1 Desktop
The GEM desktop, with the about window. GEM 1.1 did not support VGA, so these screenshots are taken in 640*350 EGA.

Note the presence of icons on the desktop, and of the single bar at the top of the screen.

GEM 1.1 Windows
As plainly visible, the GEM Desktop attempted to clone the Macintosh UI of the time. It is nowhere near as advanced, but it has drop-down menus, overlapping windows, icons, on the desktop as well no less, drag and drop, File>Quit, and there is a trash can.

There are a few noticeable differences:

  • Icons are very simple in appearance, as opposed to the Macintosh's much more fancy icons, even for the time.
  • The trash can is not actually a folder.
  • Drive icons are not added automatically.
  • Opening a folder will open it in the same window as the currently open folder.

But, it was close enough to the Macintosh that Apple sued Digital Research.

GEM 1.1 Text mode
Folders can be browsed as text as well as icons, and sorting can be done by name, date, size or type.

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