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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 2 now supports VGA, however these screenshots are still taken in 640*350 EGA since I forgot to change my DOS box settings.

GEM 2.1 Desktop
The GEM 2.1 desktop, with the about window.

There are quite a few noticeable changes:

  • The View menu has been replaced with Arrange.
  • The Desktop menu is now on the right instead of the left.
  • There are no more icons on the desktop.
  • The trash can icon is gone.
  • There are two permanently open windows on the screen.

These changes are as a result of a lawsuit between Digital Research and Apple Computer. DR had to cripple their desktop to make it look and work less like a Macintosh.

GEM 2.1 Browse
Each folder can be browsed independently, but new windows cannot be opened. To go back you press the windows System button.

GEM 2.1 Maximize
Windows can be maximized to take up the entire desktop area, but the two windows that are there cannot be resized unless you want them to be maximized. The windows cannot overlap either.

It is still possible to browse folders as text, that option is under Arrange for whatever reason.

GEM 2.1 Output
One thing I didn't take a look at before was Output, which allows you to send stuff to a printer or other external devices like a TV or camera.

GEM 2.1 Accessories
The calculator and clock accessories are unchanged, but the print spooler is new.

GEM 2.1 Preferences
And finally, the Preferences now has options for sound and date and time display formats.

GEM 2 is completely different from GEM 1, mostly due to the fact that Digital Research was sued. The desktop is now nowhere near as sophisticated.

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