Computers are tools. The flexibility of a tool determines how useful it is. Early computers were much like the one this software was written for: the Apple IIgs. They could only run one program at a time, and their usefulness was limited to what the particular program the user was executing offered. In the late 1960's, a team of researchers at AT&T began developing the UNIX operating system. The UNIX design was partially based on the premise that most programs are I/O bound, that is, most of the time the program executes is spent waiting for user input or other I/O operations. While one program is waiting for I/O, why not allow another program to execute? This is what they did, and the result was one of the most successful computer operating systems ever created.
The Apple IIgs, like the Macintosh it is modelled after, provides very limited multitasking abilities in the form of desk accessories (NDAs). The programs in the NDA menu are available in whatever application you use as long as it follows Apple's guidelines. However, there are many graphics based programs that don't support NDAs, and in addition there is a wealth of software that has been developed for the Byte Works' ORCA environment. This environment is mainly text-based, and thus makes access to NDAs impossible. As if that wasn't enough, it's very difficult to write an NDA to allow the application to keep running concurrently. So the benefits are lost, and we're back at ground zero.
Enter the GNO Multitasking Environment. What was once just dreamed about is now a reality. GNO/ME provides an environment that is almost entirely compatible with software developed for the ORCA environment. But GNO/ME also provides a wealth of new abilities, lots of new ground for developers and users alike.
Before we begin describing GNO, we'd like to respond to those who say such a multitasking system isn't possible on the Apple IIgs. Obviously it is: you hold it in your hands. Some say the Apple IIgs isn't powerful enough to make multitasking useful. We point out that the Apple IIgs is much more powerful than the first computers UNIX was designed to run on; they only had 64K of real memory, and were 16 bit machines. Some ask why you'd ever need to run more than one program at once. These are the same people who asked why we'd ever need more than 64K of memory, or more than 140K of storage on disks (end soapbox).