Most of the people involved in the early stages of ReactOS have left the project. Recently, Dennis Winkley (early Kernel Team Coordinator) showed up in the #reactos IRC channel as _Guardian_ and provided some information:
* _Guardian_ has joined #reactos
<GreyGhostNew> I was looking at history of ROS so who were the very first developers of the previous os (FreeWin95) ?
<_Guardian_> I don't really recall... no one was really left by the time Jason got involved...
<arty> grey ghost: I think the only remaining original is jason filby
<arty> but I could be wrong
<_Guardian_> yeah, the only active member left from the take over is Jason... but some of us still lurk behind the scenes...
<arty> _Guardian_: heh cool
<GreyGhostNew> Anyways Three cheers for Jason for keeping the project alive!!And all the other coders for the tough work they have put in HURRAY HURRAY HURRAY
<arty> _Guardian_: cool to see you lurking around
<arty> I've wondered about what happened in the early days
<GreyGhostNew> me too. soo how far did FreeWin95 go? or was all development started after ROS? the history doesnt mention that ...
<_Guardian_> I had been watching freewin95 which was pretty much dead... then jason posted that he was taking it over... I offered to help him...
<grasshopper2> _Guardian_: So ROS actually has code roots in freewin95?
<_Guardian_> there was nothing but the goal of cloning win95 and a few random pages about ideas (as I recall)
<_Guardian_> yes... after like a month we decided to change the name... ended up coming up with reactos... there were probably 5 or 6 people interested at that point...
<GreyGhostNew> Three cheers for _Guardian_ too HURRAY HURRAY HURRAY And again everyboy else......I love ROS.......
<arty> _Guardian_: David Welch was working on it at that point, ya?
<_Guardian_> yup... sure was...
<_Guardian_> we also set the goal of getting code working instead of talking about what to make...
<_Guardian_> followed by deciding that 9x was going to die and changed targets to NT4
<grasshopper2> Best decision ever IMO.
<GvG> _Guardian_: would you be willing to write up something (even if only anecdotal) about those early days?
<GvG> Would be good to add that to the website
<GreyGhostNew> yeah we need a wiki page....
<GreyGhostNew> That will rock
<_Guardian_> I suppose I could... but you'll probably want jason to comment on it... I don't know how good my recollection is... :)
<GvG> It would be nice to know e.g. some of the names of our "founding fathers"
<GreyGhostNew> All of U can pool everything together and have a nice History page! that will inspire other to join in too(I think)
* filip2307 was always wondering about those early days ... he's there only since about 0.0.12 was released ... :/
<GvG> Yeah, same here
<kjk_hyperion> I don't quite remember since when
<kjk_hyperion> may have been 0.0.8 or something
<GreyGhostNew> Thats early too isnt it? I was here 3 years ago then I lost all contact with ROS...and then about 4 months ago again...
<_Guardian_> I don't remember any names besides Jason and David at the moment... seems like David single handedly wrote most of the code for quite a while...
<filip2307> I remember that first version I saw was 0.0.9, but I ignored it by then.
<GvG> When did Rex and Brian Palmer get involved?
<kjk_hyperion> GvG: they were already there when I was involved
<filip2307> Rex was there since I remember...
<kjk_hyperion> Rex already was our first webmaster
<_Guardian_> right... Rex was doing the hosting...
<kjk_hyperion> and I helped Palmer write Task Manager
<kjk_hyperion> also Phillip Susi was there
<filip2307> i thought the first web site was hosted at David Welch's server ...
<_Guardian_> Brian came in a little later... I'm guessing 6 months or so... about the time I stepped back to just watch...
<filip2307> (and the CVS at Rex's box)
<kjk_hyperion> ah, right
<kjk_hyperion> Rex had his own site
<_Guardian_> actaully, I had a reactos page first hosted on geocities
<filip2307> I still remember the "yellow logo", was it the first one?
<_Guardian_> I wonder if archive.org has copies of some of the old old old stuff...
<hpoussin> http://web.archive.org/web/19991118133129/www.reactos.com/ ?
<filip2307> I don't even remember the address anymore.
<GreyGhostNew> Who do you think will have all the logos _Guardian_ ? Jason or who else (I mean ros ones)
<filip2307> it wasn't at reactos.com ...
<hpoussin> (it was time of release 0.0.14)
<filip2307> i remember older versions of the site.
<GreyGhostNew> Could make a good "History of ROS" wallpaper outa those
<kjk_hyperion> no, I wasn't there that early, I think
<kjk_hyperion> more like 0.0.17
<kjk_hyperion> when cmd was a separate download
<kjk_hyperion> because ReactOS couldn't run it yet
<kjk_hyperion> we had shell.exe
<filip2307> yeah :)
<filip2307> it had about 11 commands
<kjk_hyperion> I was the first to discover ReactOS could finally run cmd.exe
* GvG remembers his first ReactOS fight: replacing shell.exe by cmd.exe as default shell
<kjk_hyperion> oh such joy from such small events
* filip2307 remembers trying FAR w/ every release.
* kjk_hyperion remembers not knowing a iota of the C language
<_Guardian_> try archive.org for www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/7519/
<_Guardian_> probably in 96 I think...
<filip2307> for the first few version I got BSODs (not those large ugly ones like now) and then I got stuck w/ unimplemented APIs like GetDiskFreeSpace ...
<filip2307> ... oh, that were the times.
<kjk_hyperion> I remember learning C and driver development on null.sys
<kjk_hyperion> my first working code was implementing \Device\Zero
<GvG> archive.com only goes back to 99 for www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/7519/ :(
<kjk_hyperion> you can't read anything from it
<kjk_hyperion> and data written to it goes nowhere
<_Guardian_> how far back does archive go anyway?
<arty> it seems to have that from Oct 99
<_Guardian_> I'll have to see if I have the old pages stashed anywhere on backup disks...
<Royce3> _Guardian_: are you going to get involved in coding? *crosses fingers* :)
<_Guardian_> Royce3: sorry... I have my own little projects that take all my spare time... and I exited the coding part of reactos about the time 2 decisions were made. a) to use gpl, b) to clone the internal structure of NT instead of building an OS and implementing the API on top...
<Royce3> I can understand little projects, I have almost no time myself at the moment.... so those decisions were unsatisfactory for you, huh?
<grasshopper2> _Guardian_: Unfortunately too much utilities, not to mention drivers, need the exact internals to match too. :-(
<SamB> _Guardian_: how would the former in b) be any different from WINE?
<SamB> except for the part about implementing the OS
<_Guardian_> yeah... maybe some day I will write the OS I was designing that almost made jason want to bail on reactos....
<Royce3> _Guardian_: sounds intriguing...
<Royce3> I can't imagine anything making me want to bail on ReactOS though
<_Guardian_> a) I wanted to build the OS myself b) wine was not very useful at the time and c) linux was a pain to setup which doesn't go well with trying to replace windows for people...
<SamB> _Guardian_: so was that a long time ago, then?
<_Guardian_> Royce3: I don't know if I have the notes from what I was working on anymore...
<_Guardian_> SamB: yeah... 96/97
<_Guardian_> Royce3: I have a ton of notes stashed away... just have to dig through them and see if any from that time period survived...
<Royce3> _Guardian_: you should pull them out and put them online somewhere at least...
<_Guardian_> I'm planning on it... but by the end of my day when I have free time, about all I can manage is to destress for an hour or so on WoW and crash...
<filip2307> sigh, no body remembers the URL of the old site?
<filip2307> i think it was at cwcom.net or some company dwelch worked for previously.
<_Guardian_> I haven't even managed to keep recent photos of my kids up on my website in the last year...
<_Guardian_> no clue at the moment filip... sorry... I'll try to find it sometime in the next week...
<Royce3> _Guardian_: what are you doing that wipes you out so bad?
<_Guardian_> programming... helping take care of the kids... dealing with life...
<Royce3> ah.. usual stuff then :P
<filip2307> 0.0.0.13 :)
<_Guardian_> wow... I was still involved at that point?
<Royce3> checkout svn revision 1 sometime ;)
<grasshopper2> intro.htm mentions many names I've never seen.
<_Guardian_> guess I did pretent do be the kernel cordinator for a while after I quit coding...
<GvG> I couldn't checkout 1, but I did checkout 2....
<Royce3> I thought I got 1... maybe not
<Royce3> wow, there's a lot of people on the Kernel Team page!
<filip2307> i haven't seen most of the names either.
<filip2307> "Here at ReactOS, the whole kernel team is nuts!!!"
<filip2307> ah, my favourite quote
<filip2307> i didn't know it's THAT old ...
<_Guardian_> lol... that quote was my fault...
<filip2307> really? years later someone attributed it to RexJ.
<Royce3> technically he said it was his fault, not that he actually said it
<Royce3> considering he was kernel coordinator... he could be confessing to responsibility for the quote being said :P
<_Guardian_> umm... hard to say... it probably came from someone changing the IRC channel topic...
<_Guardian_> I know I tossed it onto the webpage (tripod ~UHB was mine)
<filip2307> i know about half of the names/people from the Kernel Members ... :)
<_Guardian_> probably the ones that actually did something on the project :)
<filip2307> lol, maybe
<filip2307> or just those who left their names in the source code
<filip2307> i was also reading the mailing lists back then ... but i don't remember that much
<_Guardian_> I seem to recall you showing up just before I fell off the face of the planet...
<filip2307> That's possible.
<GvG> I want to take the log of this IRC session, strip non-history related stuff and put it on the Wiki. Any objections?
<filip2307> not from me :)
* GvG is just being polite and doesn't really expect objections :-)
<Royce3> so let it be done
<_Guardian_> pleae do... :)
<_Guardian_> I'll try to add as much history as I can to it over time...
<GvG> Ok, cool
As I said I would, I'm working on some 'early days' stuff to put up here. I've found several links on archive.org that I will get posted along with what I remember. I hope Jason is still around enough to correct me and or so I have a chance to chat with him and remember even more about the begining.
A completely unrelated note by tamlin. It doesn't belong here, but lacking another place it will for the time being live here.
I remember a night in December 2004 on IRC. It must have been either x-mas or new-years eve (2004-2005). Anyway, IIRC GreatLord (correct this if wrong) came online with the news "I have telnetted using ROS!". It was AFAIK the first documented reliable bidirectional TCP connection ever done in ROS. GvG likely remembers this too, and can correct this (I'm 100% sure he was online at the time). Arty's hard work behind the scenes had finally paid off, big time!