Phar Lap (company)

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Phar Lap Inc.
Industry Software
Founded April 1986
Headquarters Cambridge, Mass.
Key people Richard M. Smith, Robert Moote, and John M. Benfatto
Products development tools for DOS, DOS extenders
Revenue NA
Employees NA

Phar Lap was a software company specializing in software development tools for DOS operating systems. The company was named for the race horse Phar Lap. They were most noted for their software allowing developers to access memory beyond the 640 KiB limit of DOS (DOS extenders) and were an author of the VCPI standard.

Phar Lap Software, Inc. was founded in April 1986 by Richard M. Smith, Robert Moote, and John M. Benfatto. Their first major success, 386|DOS-Extender, a 32-bit protected mode development tool, was released in November 1986.

Phar Lap’s product line was expanded to include 386|VMM, a virtual memory add-in driver, LinkLoc, a linker-locator for embedded development; cross tools for embedded development; and 286|DOS-Extender, a DOS extender that emulated an OS/2 environment, complete with the OS/2 API and protected mode, in contrast with Microsoft's OS/2 API emulation, which ran OS/2 applications in real mode and only supported a subset of the OS/2 API, called the Family API. Therefore it was often bound with existing OS/2 applications, replacing Microsoft's OS/2 API emulation for those applications that needed access to extended memory in DOS. Later on the TNT DOS extender was created, which was a version of 386|DOS-Extender that emulated the Win32 environment, complete with flat address space and threading. Again this DOS extender was often bound to existing Win32 applications. Unfortunately, MASM 6.1 and the 16-bit version of the Visual C++ 1.0 compiler were Win32 applications written for a beta version of Windows NT that was bound with the TNT DOS Extender, which means it could not run on the final version of Windows NT until Beta2Fix.exe was run, which replaced all references to NTDLL.DLL with BETA2.DLL. This was fixed in MASM 6.11 and Visual C++ 1.5.

Phar Lap developed the Virtual Control Program Interface (VCPI) specification in cooperation with Quarterdeck Office Systems, who produced the DESQview task-switching software. Phar Lap was also a member of the 12-firm committee that designed the DOS Protected Mode Interface (DPMI). VCPI and DPMI are industry standards allowing DOS extenders to co-exist with expanded memory (EMS) emulators and multi-tasking environments.

Phar Lap received several major PC industry awards for VCPI, 386|DOS-Extender, and 286|DOS-Extender.

32-bit Windows applications could directly address all the memory the personal computer hardware would support, so memory extenders were no longer needed.

Phar Lap is now part of IntervalZero, formerly Ardence, which produces, among other products, the Phar Lap ETS real-time operating system,[1] used for instance on LabVIEW real-time targets.

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