|This article is a work in-progress.|
Like many aspects of the OS-tan universe, there is no widespread agreement about the nature of the OS-tan - or more accurately, computer-tan - species. This article will present a few different theories on the computer-tan species, but this list is by no means comprehensive or "canon".
- 1 OS-tan species in Japanese canon
- 2 Computer-tan species in OSC canon/fanon
- 3 Evolution of computer-tans
- 4 Hierarchy of computer-tan species
OS-tan species in Japanese canon
Even in Japanese canon, there is no agreement on the nature of OS-tans. Sometimes they are depicted as more-or-less human in body and mind - as evidenced by eating and drinking human cuisine and displaying other human bodily functions. Other depictions portray them as computer-like or robot-like - capable of freezing, crashing, BSOD-ing, eating disk space, etc. Sometimes they are depicted as being a product of cyberspace, materializing from computers or the internet.
There are very few hardware-tan characters in Japanese canon. Most of the characters are humanizations of software or computer operating systems.
Computer-tan species in OSC canon/fanon
There is no set OSC "canon", but a collection of canons or fanons based on the different storylines proposed and written by OSC members. However, some overlap does exist between the different interpretations. Here are a few of the proposed (and sometimes recognized) OS-tan species.
In most OSC stories, computer-tans are depicted as being biologically similar to human beings, but having superior abilities of intellect. They tend to age much slower than human beings, if they age at all, and their life force depends upon the size of their userbase - when a computer-tan runs out of users or all its systems are shut down, the -tan typically dies. However, they can be restored from death, as evidenced by Multics-tan or Colossus-tan.
OS-tans are humanizations of computer operating systems. They are often depicted as having super-human powers - for instance, magical abilities - something not present in hardware-tans. They are usually ageless and in some cases immortal. In some storylines, an OS-tan's body is partially or primarily composed of something called [source] code. It is typically depicted as being analogous to human DNA, but imbued with certain properties that give them magical or reality-bending abilities. Furthermore, under the code theory OS-tans are capable of creating and entering their own code-produced spaces, separate from, but housed within, the space-time continuum. It is somewhat analogous to cyberspace in that it is only accessible to OS-tans or software-tans, with hardware-tans and humans having difficulty entering it. It is impossible for non-software-tans to enter these code-produced spaces without software-tan or OS-tan assistance.
OS-tans routinely interact with hardware-tans, software-tans and humans. OS-tans tend to be very gender-imbalanced, with many more female OS-tans than male OS-kuns.
Program or application-tans are humanizations of non-OS computer programs, for instance, word processors, text editors and web browsers. They are sometimes called software-tans, but this is somewhat misleading - as both application-tans and OS-tans fall under the "software-tan" species umbrella.
Program-tans are similar to OS-tans. Like OS-tans, they can possess magical powers, are ageless, sometimes considered to be composed of code, and able to enter code-produced spaces. They are typically less powerful than OS-tans, and dependent on OS-tans for survival.
Program-tans typically interact with OS-tans and humans. There is more gender balance among program programs, with many male program-kuns existing.
Hardware-tans are humanizations of computer hardware. They can be humanizations of a single computer model (for instance, Rainbow 100-tan), an entire computer line (e.g., PDP-11-tan), pieces of computer hardware such as memory or storage devices (like FASTRAND-kun), or computer-related hardware, such as typewriters or teletype terminals (see: Selectric-kun). Hardware-tans are typically depicted as being more prone to physical and age-related damage than software-tans.
They usually interact with OS-tans and humans, though pre-OS-tan generations of hardware-tans likely worked with program-tans. There are many male hardware-tan characters.
Combinations of hardware and software
Some computer-tans are depicted as "hybrids" - that is to say, that they represent both the hardware and software or OS components of a system. Little is known about the physical nature of this type of computer-tan, although quite a few exist - especially among microcomputers that ran simple BASIC-based systems rather than full OSes (e.g., the early Apple or Commodore-tans) or pre-operating system computers that were primarily hardware-based with simple software (for example, Whirlwind-tan).
Sometimes, software/hardware hybrid-tans represent entire computer systems or networks that encompass hardware, software and other specialized devices. For instance, SAGE-tan, who personifies the IBM AN/FSQ-7 computer, the software that ran on said computer and the entire SAGE network. Similarly, WWMCCS-tan encompasses the vast array of hardware and software used in the WWMMCS system and Mertvaya Ruka represents the computers and sensory devices that make up the Perimeter System.
While a firmware-tan species has been proposed, no firmware-tans have ever been created.
Evolution of computer-tans
In the Japanese canon and early OSC "canon"/fanon, hardware-tans are all but ignored. The recent appearance of large numbers of fanon hardware-tans have inspired the creation of theories that explain how software- and OS-tans may have evolved from early ancestral computer-tans.
In early OSC fanon / Annex Universe
In the original OSC Annex Universe, hardware-tans were more or less unrecognized. Due to their statuses as very early OS-tans, GMOS or EXEC-tan were considered the conceptual ancestor(s) of all OS-tans.
The hardware-tan as originator theory
Under this theory, hardware-tans were the first species of computer. Hardware/software hybrids would have evolved next, then independent software (program/application)-tans, and finally OS-tans.
Hierarchy of computer-tan species
It has been speculated that there is a hierarchy in computer-tan society, with some species being considered a higher or ruling-class, and others considered subordinate. OS-tans are usually placed at the top of the hierarchy, due to their somewhat elite status and relative independence. There has never been a clear consensus on the social rank of hardware-tans and application-tans - while application-tans are dependent on OS-tans for continued life, there are many program-tans whose power and influence rival that of many OS-tans. Similarly, there exist many vintage hardware-tans whose popularity and longevity rival that of many OS-tans; and unlike software-tans, do not need the assistance of OS-tans to survive.
Modern hardware-tans are likely dependent on OS-tans, since there are no modern computers that can run without some form of operating system.