Be Inc., the creator of the BeIA and BeOS operating systems, has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its intellectual property and technology assets to Palm Inc.

The purchase price is $11 million, to be paid in common stock of Palm, which Be currently intends to liquidate as soon as reasonably practicable following the closing of the transaction. Be's board of directors has approved the transaction, and the winding-up of Be's operating business following the closing. The closing of the transaction and the winding-up are subject to the approval of Be's stockholders, and the satisfaction of other customary closing
conditions. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth calendar quarter of 2001.

Made by Gasse Be Inc. was founded by Jean-Louis Gassee (pictured), former Apple chief technologist who headed the Mac maker’s research and design department in the 1980s.

Gasse was fired fired by former Apple CEO John Sculley in 1990. He started a new company with former Apple engineer Steve Sakoman, who had started Apple's work on the Newton PDA technology – a predecessor of the Palm OS.

Their idea was to build a brand-new desktop computer, with a new operating system. Gasse wanted to call the company 'United Technoids Inc.', but Sakoman didn't like it and said he would look through a dictionary for a better name.

A few days later, Gasse asked him how he was doing, and Sakoman said he'd got tired and stopped at 'B'. Gasse said: "Be is nice. End of story."

Gasse recruited several ex-Apple engineers to Be - including Erich Ringewald, who had been working on the Pink operating system that was supposed to replace System 6, and Bob Harold, another of the early Newton team members.

Be was officially unveiled at the Demo conference in September 1995. Gasse got a standing ovation when he showed off the BeBox computer, which ran on PowerPC processors.

Be for Apple? The Be OS was a much more robust and capable operating system than the Mac OS of the day. Apple was working on its Copland project, which was supposed to replace the old Mac OS – but the project had run into a brick wall.

In 1996, Peter Barrett, an independent software entrepreneur, surprised then Apple CEO Gil Amelio by showing a Mac interface running on top of the BeOS.

Barrett told Amelio: "Apple needs to break from the past, and build a modern operating system. It's a new world, and Copland is outdated already. One way to do it would be to buy Be. I think it could be a strategy to save Apple."

Amelio was interested, and Gasse had grand plans to make Be a separate arm of Apple, called Modern OS, with Ringewald in charge.

The stumbling block was how much Gasse wanted for Be – his first proposal was for 10 per cent of Apple's stock, worth nearly $300 million. Apple did make an offer of $120 million, but Gasse rejected it.

In the end, Apple bought Steve Jobs' NeXT for over $400 million.

"We picked Plan A, instead of Plan Be," explained Amelio – who was soon fired as Apple CEO when the Apple board of directors sided with NeXT's CEO Steve Jobs – the co-founder of Apple, who had been firted by Sculley in 1985, and has now been CEO of Apple since 1997.

Palm reorganizes In addition to the acquisition of Be, Palm is also expected to announce the departure of Alan Kessler, general manager for its platform group, the report said.

Palm has been reorganizing the company to refocus itself on handheld computer hardware, its traditional core business, as well as the licensing of the Palm software platform.

Last month, Palm announced that Motorola, Intel and Texas Instruments were working on readying Palm's handheld computer operating system, Palm OS, for use with more powerful chips, including some based on the ARM microprocessor core. Palm is trying to build a path for its developers, enabling them to build more innovative devices to run Palm OS.