The short answer is MS-DOS 3.3.
According to the MS-DOS Encyclopedia, MS-DOS 2.0 to 3.2 (included) only supported one MS-DOS partition per partitioned device (hard drive basically). (Before MS-DOS 2.0, hard drives weren’t supported at all.) MS-DOS 3.3 introduced support for multiple partitions per device, albeit still limited to a single primary partition per drive (and multiple logical partitions inside extended partitions), and famously, 32 MiB per partition.
Compaq DOS 3.31, released in November 1987 or thereabouts, introduced support for FAT16 with 32-bit sector counts and thus partitions larger than 32 MiB. Subsequent versions of DOS included this, starting with IBM DOS 4. (Reportedly, other OEM versions of DOS 3.3 released after Compaq DOS 3.31 included this too, e.g. Zenith DOS 3.3 Plus.) MS-DOS 5 introduced support for multiple primary partitions per drive.
Various manufacturers also provided device drivers which supported proprietary partitioning schemes, or provided support for larger drives using the “standard” DOS partitioning scheme (such as Compaq’s
ENHDISK.SYS, mentioned by Raffzahn, which was available as early as Compaq DOS 2.12 if not earlier).
I’m not sure about DR DOS’s level of support; certainly by DR DOS 5 it supported large partitions (I used it on a 120 MiB drive with a single real partition, hosting a compressed volume using SuperStor).
How did MS-DOS assign drive letters in the case of more than two floppy disk drives? covers letter assignment and discusses the differences in more detail.
It might help to put this in context (especially for readers coming from the original comment which led to this question).
- DOS 3.0 was released in August 1984; the “standard” hard drive then was 10 MB in size, for around $900 (as present in the PC/XT), and the largest drives for sale for PCs that I can find are 33 MB in size (see for example BYTE volume 9 number 9, page 236), which corresponds quite nicely with the maximum 32 MiB usable in a DOS partition.
- DOS 3.3 was released in April 1987, and $900 then would comfortably buy a 40 MB hard drive; Seagate also had a 80 MB drive, available for around $1300 (large hard drives couldn’t be used in full, simultaneously, with DOS 3.2 and earlier, as standard, but they could be used with other operating systems, and that’s how some were marketed).
- DOS 4.0 was released in July 1988, by which time Maxtor sold a 130 MB drive for around $1500.
By the time MS-DOS 5.0 was released in 1991, 120 MB drives were starting to become common.
I’ve checked with an old PC and a 40 MB drive, and DOS 3.2’s
FDISK can’t create a partition larger than 32 MB, however it can create multiple primary partitions. But only one partition per drive is usable at a time (the active partition). DOS 3.3 can create and use extended partitions with logical partitions inside them.