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Pathworks was the tradename used by Digital Equipment Corporation of Maynard, Massachusetts for a series of programs that eased the interoperation of Digital's minicomputers with personal computers. It was available for both Windows and Mac computer systems.
The server part of Pathworks ran on VAX/VMS or Ultrix and enabled a DEC VAX or VAXcluster to act as a file and print server for client IBM PC compatible and Macintosh workstations. Pathworks server was derived from LanMan/X, the portable version of OS/2 LAN Manager.
Once installed onto the PCs, the Pathworks client provided the following features:
- DECnet end-node connectivity with the host systems
- PowerTerm 525 Terminal emulation software from Ericom
- File-transfer software
For clients running a GUI such as Windows 3.x, additional components available included an X window system server, allowing clients to access graphical apps running on VMS or UNIX hosts, and clients for DEC's ALL-IN-1 email and groupware system. Although primitive by modern standards, Pathworks was very sophisticated for its time; far more than just a file and print server, it made client microcomputers into terminals and workstations on a DEC network.
LanMan normally ran across Microsoft's basic, non-routable NetBIOS/NetBEUI NBF protocol, but Pathworks included a DECnet stack, including layers like the LAT transport used for terminal sessions. The complexity of DECnet by 1980s PC standards meant that the Pathworks client was a huge software stack to have resident in MS-DOS; configuring the Pathworks client was a complex task, made more so by the need to preserve enough Conventional memory for DOS applications to run. To keep a reasonable amount of base memory free mandated the use of QEMM or a similar memory manager.
Pathworks used the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol and had VMS and Ultrix server versions. That was in addition to the corresponding software on the client IBM compatible PC and Apple Macintosh.
Lawrence W. White - Pathworks Product Manager
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