Being an Amiga fan, I have a fondness for the Rexx language. On that platform, almost every significant program supported ARexx, allowing a high degree of interoperability and customability. So when PC DOS 7 added Rexx (after dropping MS Basic with v6), I expected good things.

... But I don't know of any. Was it just too late in DOS' lifetime for folks to take advantage of this powerful tool? Or was it inferior in some way that would not allow the benefits ARexx offered Amiga programs? I know a major feature offered on the Amiga was "ARexx ports", which were actually native AmigaOS IPC channels which ARexx made simple to use.

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    REXX was designed by IBM in the late 70s and ported to many platforms, especially IBM's own. It's still in use: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rexx
    – Jim Nelson
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 19:40
  • 2
    REXX was added to PC-DOS too late, and it was obvious from the start that using REXX would tie you to PC-DOS (since MS-DOS didn't have it, and didn't appear likely to get it). If you wanted your programs to work on both PC-DOS and MS-DOS systems you were better off avoiding REXX (or at least, not relying on the presence of PC-DOS 7+). I know of one significant product that made use of REXX, but it had its own REXX interpreter built-in and didn't use (or require) the PC-DOS 7 version.
    – Ken Gober
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 19:47
  • Since it's one of the hard to answer 'why not' questions,there can be no definitive answer - so it'll be a comment:)) Technical REXX was already available short after the PC became a useful machine, ca 1983/84. since tehn several implementation, including from IBM appeared. So availability can't be a reason. I would tend to say it was just too much for simple scripting a PC needed (after all, DOS didn't offer much more than copying files and starting programs :)) , and too 'new' as programming language - also being not positioned as such. Effectivly a solution without a problem.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 20:03
  • The DOS-protected mode ports of the Hesling editor, for DPMI and VCPI, both use Regina.
    – Polluks
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 8:12
  • To my understanding REXX was included by IBM to benefit IBM employees familiar with REXX on other IBM platforms. Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


The answer is a resounding no. Rexx was not a popular scripting language for DOS because it didn't offer any significant advantage over DOS batch files, besides the differing syntax which is a subjective benefit.

Where Rexx really shines is as a scripting language for automating applications. That's how it was used on the Amiga. But since PC-DOS/MS-DOS is single-tasking, using a centralized script run-time to automate applications isn't nearly as practical. In a single-tasking system, it makes more sense to make applications scriptable by embedding some scripting engine within the application itself. So that was the most likely route for DOS applications that needed "scriptability".

ARexx for the Amiga, and the equally popular AppleScript for classic (and newer) Macs added a scripting layer to the platform that would not find its way onto PC's until they adopted multitasking. I think the realistic equivalent to ARexx for the Amiga would be Microsoft's Visual Basic for Applications, which made its way into Windows in 1993.

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    REXX on OS/2 was quite popular, for largely the same reasons as ARexx and AppleScript. Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 7:49
  • I actually wrote a script in rexx on winnt 3.5 back in the 90s because dos batch couldn't quite do what I needed. It was interesting Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 16:42

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