I'm trying to settle a debate between me and some colleagues about two-panel file managers in MS-DOS/PC DOS.

According to my own recollection the first was DV.EXE (DualView IIRC), but some of my colleagues are adamant that NC.EXE (Norton Commander) was the first.

Could be we are all wrong and there was another that preceded those.

Please note: We are looking for a proper DOS program. Not a CP/M program that could also work under DOS.

  • 3
    Mind to add a definition what a proper DOS program would be, considering that DOS 1.x was a CP/M clone for most parts? Beside that no CP/M program would work without being ported proper.
    – Raffzahn
    Jan 10 at 12:53
  • @Raffzahn I would say originally written and designed for DOS as opposed to a original CP/M program ported to DOS.
    – Tonny
    Jan 10 at 14:09
  • 2
    Ok - makes me wonder what quality that differentiation that brings. It seems arbitrary, doesn't it?
    – Raffzahn
    Jan 11 at 0:09
  • 1
    @Raffzahn Were do you draw the line? I guess any criterion I care to define will have some arbitrariness to it.
    – Tonny
    Jan 11 at 11:29
  • Hmm. I guess some criteria are less forcing and more 'natural'. For example, I would call any application that runs native under MS-DOS (no emulation or translation layer used) a by and large proper.
    – Raffzahn
    Jan 11 at 14:43

I think that both PathMinder and Bourbaki’s 1dir predate your examples, but I don’t know if they are the first DOS-specific dual-pane file managers. PathMinder was first published in 1984, 1dir (pronounced “wonder”) in 1983. 1dir didn’t always show two panes listing files; it only did so when copying files, and I’m not sure whether it did so in its initial versions.

Norton Commander was released in 1986; I don’t know when your other candidate was. (To me, DV is DESQview!)

This history of DOS file managers shows the later 1dir+ in action, and this page on Arthur-PC shows the CP/M version of PathMinder with its dual-pane interface. (Note that PathMinder was initially written for DOS, and ported to CP/M later.)

  • 2
    I know all about the confusion between DV and DESQView. We had BOTH back in the early 90's and it was a never ending source of frustration for the people running the company helpdesk back then.
    – Tonny
    Jan 10 at 14:07
  • 1
    At least these both predate NC.exe (1986). I seem to recall DV.EXE was 1984 or 1985. I may be able to find the original license for DV we bought somewhere in the company archives, but due to Covid restrictions it may be weeks (or longer) before I will be able to get to the office in person.
    – Tonny
    Jan 10 at 14:13
  • 2
    > …1dir (pronounced “wonder”)…. Oooooooh! Jan 11 at 8:54

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