MS-DOS

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MS-DOS v6.22.

MS-DOS is a command line operating system developed and published by Microsoft in 1981. It was based on QDOS, and designed to run on IBM personal computers. It saw continual improvements and was released for a number of similar computers until it was finally superseded by Windows 95. Until the release of Windows 95, MS-DOS was the primary platform for IBM-compatible PC gaming.

My family's first computer came with MS-DOS 5.0, which we later upgraded to 6.22 after its release. I've also used version 3.22 on my cousin's Tandy 1000 which I spent a lot of time on.

MS-DOS can be emulated in most virtual machines, but to also emulate various forms of hardware that was popular during the DOS era, you will need a program like DOSBox.

Software

The following is software developed for MS-DOS that is important to me.

Applications

Games

See all DOS Games.

Programming Languages

Hardware

This is hardware that is compatible with MS-DOS and important to me.

Review

Good

  • The OS environment of MS-DOS was pretty stable.
  • Each version included fairly large improvements, though many of them weren't always seen by the average user.
  • Most versions of the OS included a free version of a BASIC programming language, like GW-BASIC and QBASIC.

Bad

  • Very little in the way of interface was ever added to the OS. You mostly look at a black and gray screen that can't be customized. Version 4 added a mouse-driven DOS Shell, and version 5 included a pretty nice editor, but much more could have been done.
  • The OS was designed for a single user running a single task. So, it is very difficult to have it run for multiple users or multiple tasks. At best, you can invoke a terminate and stay resident (TSR) program.
  • Altering OS configurations (Config.sys) and default starting procedures (AutoExec.bat) is very cryptic, but frequently necessary.
  • Out of the box, MS-DOS only supports a couple dozen commands and couldn't do very much. Third-party software is a must if you want to do something with your computer.
  • By giving programmers direct access to hardware, it is possible for poorly written software to crash a computer.
  • The documentation that comes with DOS (at least with every version I had) isn't very helpful.

Ugly

  • Hardware limitations lasted too long and made it very difficult to make complicated hardware and software. Half-assed attempts were made to get beyond the 640K memory barrier with expanded and extended memory, but it was always difficult to use. Hard drive limitations always lagged behind, and DOS remained 16-bit until the release of Windows 95.
  • MS-DOS has several undocumented APIs specifically added to make it difficult for competitors to run software originally written for MS-DOS. This resulted in a pretty big anti-trust lawsuit the Microsoft had to settle.

Gallery

Links