Be Inc.

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Be Inc.
DefunctNovember 15, 2001
HeadquartersMenlo Park, California, United States
Key people
Jean-Louis Gassée, Steve Sakoman (founders)
ProductsBeOS, BeBox, BeIA Edit this on Wikidata

Be Inc. was an American computer company founded in 1990, best known for the development and release of BeOS, and the BeBox personal computer. Be was founded by former Apple Computer executive Jean-Louis Gassée with capital from Seymour Cray.

Be's corporate offices were located in Menlo Park, California; as well as regional sales offices in France and Japan. The company later relocated to Mountain View in California for the duration of its dissolution.

The main intent of Be was to develop a new operating system using the C++ programming language on a proprietary hardware platform. The BeOS ran on the BeBox, but was later ported to Apple Computer's Power Macs despite resistance from Apple, due to the hardware specifications assistance of Power Computing. In 1998, the system was ported to the Intel x86 architecture, and PowerPC support was reduced, finally being dropped after BeOS R5.

The open-source OS Haiku, a complete reimplementation of BeOS, is designed to start up where BeOS left off. Beta 1 of Haiku was released in September 2018. The operating system also puts out nightly releases and continues to have an active development team as of September 2018.[1]


Be was founded by former Apple Computer executive Jean-Louis Gassée in 1990 with Steve Sakoman after being ousted by Apple CEO John Sculley.[2] Be aimed to create a modern computer operating system written in C++ on a proprietary hardware platform. In 1995, the BeBox personal computer was released by Be, with its distinctive strips of lights up the front that indicated the load of each CPU, and the combined analogue/digital, 37-pin GeekPort has made it a highly desirable item for collectors[citation needed]. In addition to BeOS and BeBox, Be also produced BeIA, an ill-fated OS for internet appliances. It was however used commercially by Sony (with the eVilla) and DT Research, amongst others, during its short lifespan.

In 1996, Apple was searching for a new operating system to replace the classic Mac OS. Eventually, the two final options were BeOS and NeXTSTEP. The deal swung towards NeXT due to the persuasive influence of Steve Jobs and the incomplete state of the BeOS product, criticized at the time for lacking such features as printing capability.

Ultimately the assets of the corporation were bought by Palm, Inc., where Gassée served on the board of directors, for US$11 million in 2001, at which point the company entered dissolution. The company then initiated litigation against Microsoft for anti-competitive business practices, specifically the prohibition of OEMs to allow dual-boot systems containing both Microsoft and non-Microsoft operating systems. The suit was settled in September 2003 with a US$23.25 million payout to Be, Inc. Palm subsequently spun off a wholly owned subsidiary PalmSource to develop its Palm OS and related software, with the Be assets being transferred to PalmSource which was subsequently acquired by Japanese-based ACCESS.

Company name[edit]

According to several sources including Macworld UK, the company name "Be" had its origin in a conversation between Gassée and Be co-founder Steve Sakoman. Gassée originally thought the company should be called "United Technoids Inc.", but Sakoman disagreed and said he would start looking through the dictionary for a better name. A few days later, when Gassée asked if he had made any progress, Sakoman replied that he had got tired and stopped at "B." Gassée said, "Be is nice. End of story."


  1. ^ "Haiku Release 1 Alpha 4",, November 12, 2012, archived from the original on 2013-12-22
  2. ^ Pollack, Andrew (3 March 1990). "Apple Official Says He Will Leave". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2013.