Questions tagged [ms-dos]

For questions regarding MS-DOS, the Microsoft Disk Operating System, and its batch scripting language. Do not use this tag for questions about DOS batch languages in general.

88
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Does “Disk Operating System” imply that there was a “non-disk” Operating System?

In the 1980's at primary school we saw MS DOS and DR DOS competing before Windows 3.1 and subsequent releases took over that space. At home we had Apple II's which booted up to a BASIC prompt. On ...
74
votes
9answers
8k views

What key factor led to the sudden commercial success of MS Windows with v3.0?

Microsoft Windows was originally introduced in 1985, ostensibly to compete with the Apple Macintosh, and other computers shipping with graphical shells by that time. However, early versions of Windows ...
69
votes
2answers
10k views

How did Windows 3.1 implement multitasking?

Windows in its earliest days was simply a shell that ran on top of MS-DOS, which means that Windows 3.1 itself was actually just a standard MS-DOS application like any other. Yet, MS-DOS is not a ...
63
votes
3answers
11k views

What character is the MS-DOS cursor?

The cursor used on my 486 (and Pentium 3) in MS-DOS 6/7 has a thick underlined character. I cannot find that in code page 437. The underscore character is the closest to it, but is thinner. Where ...
55
votes
3answers
10k views

Why did DOS use dollar-terminated strings?

According to a few tutorials I am seeing, DOS used dollar-terminated strings to write to the terminal. This seems to also be documented here on INT 21H. AH = 09h - WRITE STRING TO STANDARD OUTPUT ...
48
votes
2answers
10k views

Why is Windows using CRLF and Unix just LF when Unix is the older system?

Windows and MS-DOS use for new lines the control characters CR-LF (carriage return, line feed), while unix uses just LF. As far as I know CR-LF made sense for systems controlling an real teletyper, ...
38
votes
2answers
6k views

Did IBM encourage Bill Gates to retain the rights over PC-DOS?

As is well-known, Microsoft's negotiations with IBM to deliver PC-DOS 1.0 with the original IBM PC resulted in: IBM licensing the OS from Microsoft, as opposed to purchasing it outright. Microsoft ...
35
votes
8answers
11k views

Is DOS being shipped with or as an installed OS?

Given the very small size of DOS, it would seem it might still be ideal for some applications such as handheld games. Is any system manufacturer still shipping DOS with their machine? If no one is ...
33
votes
8answers
4k views

How to put a delay in AUTOEXEC.BAT

I have this MS-DOS 6.22 machine which maps a network drive to a SAMBA share on a Raspberry PI. The PI is powered by a USB lead from the DOS machine, so the two power up together. The mapping starts ...
31
votes
1answer
2k views

Where and what was Haunt.bat? A game pre-loaded on a c1992 PC

This doesn't belong on the gaming SE, so I'm trying my luck here. I'm looking for any info I can get on an old game that I simply known as "Haunt.bat". Here is the back-story: In the mid 90's a ...
29
votes
7answers
7k views

Is there a reason to prefer earlier versions of MS-DOS over later?

I understand MS-DOS to be backwards-compatible, so is there a reason to run a version earlier than the last (6.22) on an old computer? The only reason I can think of would be for period-accuracy, but ...
26
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3answers
7k views

Were 9.2 file names possible in MS-DOS?

In MS-DOS (and FAT16), you could only have 8.3 file names (like QUESTION.TXT) with only single-case letters and numbers (and a few symbols). The MS-DOS Editor also defaulted to 8.3 - typing edit ...
26
votes
3answers
4k views

Why wasn't DOSKEY integrated with COMMAND.COM?

Why did Microsoft make DOSKEY a separate command, instead of integrating it with COMMAND.COM? I don't think DOSKEY uses a lot of RAM or was useless in the '80s... Maybe there was another reason not ...
25
votes
5answers
7k views

Are MS-DOS and Windows 9x vulnerable to Meltdown?

In an interesting crossover between current events and Retrocomputing, the vulnerability known as "Meltdown" was publicly disclosed on January 3rd 2018. The retro-computing tie-in is that this ...
24
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3answers
4k views

Where did DOS store graphics fonts?

I remember using a wysiwyg print program called Fontasy for CGI graphics in DOS because of a lack of standardized graphics fonts. Companies were selling "font packs" for other type fonts. Prior to Win ...
23
votes
4answers
4k views

Why are Windows 95 installation disks not uniquely bound to a single product key?

I was installing the OEM version of Windows 95 on VirtualBox the other day for reminiscence sake, and for some reason I had two different product keys. I tested both of them to see which one mapped to ...
23
votes
1answer
2k views

How does the command.com shell work with MS-DOS?

On my systems that are running MS-DOS, I change the default command.com to 4DOS for more features. How was the shell system designed and how did it with the operating system in MS-DOS that it enabled ...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

How did MS-DOS assign drive letters in the case of more than two floppy disk drives?

The IBM PC BIOS had provisions for up to four floppy disk drives, by virtue of returning the number of floppy disk drives in a two-bit field plus a none/some flag (allowing for reporting values of 0, ...
21
votes
3answers
5k views

Is there a simple way to display ANSI art and animation files in a modern terminal window?

ANSI art and animations were prevalent on BBS systems in the late 80s and early 90s, and the ANSI art scene continues to thrive today. There are thousands of ANSI art files, with usual extension .ans, ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

How did Windows ME “cripple” DOS?

Windows ME includes the ability to create a bootable DOS floppy. This floppy contains versions of COMMAND.COM and IO.SYS that are "crippled" to remove real mode. This is done with only one changed ...
19
votes
5answers
7k views

Will PC-DOS run faster on 4 or 8 core modern machines?

When I run PC-DOS on my 4 core AMD Phenom chip, does it take advantage of the extra parallel CPU's? If not, is there a way to coax DOS to use all available CPU's or does this require specific ...
19
votes
8answers
2k views

Why did CP/M and MS-DOS used the BIOS drivers instead of their own drivers to access hardware?

Modern versions of Windows (and other modern operating systems I suppose) have their own drivers to access hardware. But as I have read, in the old days, if CP/M or MS-DOS wanted to access hardware, ...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

When was QDOS changed to MSDOS?

So a while back, I heard that MSDOS was originally named QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System), and that it was later changed is MSDOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System). This was probably a ...
18
votes
2answers
967 views

Slash versus backslash as directory separator - what/who caused this rift?

MS DOS and derived systems use backslash \ for path separator and slash '/' for command parameters. Unix and a number of other systems used slash '/' for paths and backslash \ for escaping special ...
18
votes
1answer
551 views

Logo of a bow tie guy with a spoon

I was in the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley last week, and I saw this badge. I know I've seen that logo somewhere before, but I can't remember where! Does anyone know where it's from?
17
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2answers
4k views

First commercial DOS game?

What was the first commercial game sold for use on IBM/MS/PC DOS after the IBM August 12, 1981 release.
16
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3answers
1k views

How did DoubleDOS work?

Back in the MS-DOS days, there was a program DoubleDOS that you could run that would split your machine in half and multitask two separate DOS programs. While it didn't particularly work well for ...
16
votes
2answers
660 views

What are these tiny TSRs doing?

I've been puzzled by this for a while now. The (very old) game Phantasie comes with three small TSRs that are run prior to running the main game executable. This is the content of the file PH.BAT, ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

Do you need to allocate memory before you use it in MS-DOS?

In modern operating systems (for example: Windows), you can't access a memory location before you allocate that memory location to your program (or else a segmentation fault will occur). I am ...
15
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the best choice for DOS for a 1990 80386 PC?

I plan to install Windows 3.0 and PC/GEOS on top of DOS. Plus I will install numerous games from the 1984-1992 timeframe. Some of the later games will require >640K RAM and make use of an EMM driver. ...
15
votes
3answers
5k views

How can MS-DOS be installed on VirtualBox?

As part of the MSDN subscription I just got, I can download MS-DOS 6.22 (wow indeed). I want to install it to a VirtualBox VM so I can try old games and viruses (due to viruses, I can't install it to ...
14
votes
3answers
952 views

What order were files/directories output in dir?

In the version of command.com included with MS-DOS, DIR seems to print files in a random order, but if one runs multiple DIR commands, they all print the files in the same order. This order does not ...
14
votes
2answers
3k views

Was OS/2 a viable alternative for daily DOS and Windows tasks?

After playing a bit with the OS, a question sparked my interest: Could it entirely replace DOS and Windows ? Let's restrict the scope of this question a bit since it's fairly broad, Was it ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

What are my options for multitasking in MS-DOS 5.0 on an 80186 with EMS?

I've got an HP 200LX, which runs DOS 5.0 from ROM, and I'm using EMM200 to provide some EMS from the C: RAM disk (it uses the memory controller to directly map the "disk" blocks into memory, and thus ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

How can I emulate MS-DOS on OS X?

I am looking for a emulator for MS-DOS for OS X to run old games on. Are there any free emulators for MS-DOS that run on an Apple machine with OS X?
14
votes
2answers
3k views

Did MS DOS itself ever use blinking text?

I know that it was possible to create blinking text, but did the operating system itself (I mean, in output from functions of command.com and similar executables) ever make use of blink formatting? ...
14
votes
1answer
3k views

Name this PC DOS Combat Flight Simulator

I'm trying to remember the name of a PC DOS Combat Flight Simulator that I played around 1991/92. I can give the following details: It was named after a US fighter plane that would have been in ...
14
votes
2answers
973 views

Who decides what is the memory address that the CGA video buffer will be mapped to?

In DOS, the memory mapped IO base address for the CGA video buffer is 0xB8000. So when you write to 0xB8000, you are actually writing to a buffer in the CGA card itself and not to RAM. What I want to ...
14
votes
2answers
845 views

What is the difference between DriveSpace and DoubleSpace?

DriveSpace is the successor to DoubleSpace. Both are DOS systems that mount a Compressed Volume File as a drive, allowing ordinary programs to interface with a compressed drive without an intermediate ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Where was the DOS cdd utility from?

I distinctly remember, on the computer I had in the 90's, being able to type cdd D:\bla\bla in the MS-DOS command prompt, to change both the current directory and drive (avoiding having to type D: ...
13
votes
1answer
5k views

What is the oldest commercial MS-DOS program that can run on modern versions of Windows without third-party software?

What is the oldest commercial MS-DOS program that can run on modern versions of Windows (such as Windows 8.1 or Windows 10) without third-party emulators?
13
votes
2answers
1k views

How do modern .bat files differ from old MS DOS .bat files?

I'm wondering how modern batch files (.bat) are different from MS-DOS .bat files? There are some commands that feel more "modern" and don't seem like something you'd see in an older system. How do ...
13
votes
2answers
10k views

Is WinWorldPC legal? [closed]

I'm sure a lot of us have come across WinWorldPC online. With the valuable resources that it has for obsolete systems, is it actually legal? For example, I could download almost any Windows system I ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Can I run Windows 98 and games from the same era on an AMD Duron CPU?

I have acquired an old motherboard with a socket 462 and a AMD Duron (I think its a "Spitfire" model 3). The copyright on the CPU is from 1999 and it apparently doesn't require a dedicated CPU fan as ...
12
votes
1answer
821 views

Why the DOS extender and DPMI were unavailable to DOS programs on 286 standard mode of Windows 3.0

An old article on Windows 3.0 from PC Magazine (June 11, 1991, page 348) said that: Using standard mode, the Windows DOS extender and DOS Protected Mode Interface (DPMI) are available to Windows ...
11
votes
7answers
5k views

Is there a reason why MS-DOS didn't use more English words for commands?

When using diskpart, I can list all the drives by typing LIST DISK or to select a specific drive I can type select disk 1. Is there a reason why MS-DOS didn't use more English words to do tasks, for ...
11
votes
6answers
622 views

VT52 emulation for MS-DOS?

I'm trying to run an old MS-DOS program that was written to use VT52 escape codes. Some Microsoft knowledge base items (such as Q101875) refer to a 'third-party console driver' called VT52.SYS. I'm ...
11
votes
2answers
469 views

How to use the “darker” CGA palette using x86 Assembly?

For those of you retro developers out there, I am having a hard time figuring out how exactly to select the "darker" color palette in 320x200 CGA mode. Here's what I have so far: setup_cga_graphics: ...
11
votes
2answers
764 views

Why did MS-DOS choose percent symbol to designate variable?

I couldn't find anything but is there any reason for choosing % over $ like in *nix shells?
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Did CP/M support custom hardware using device drivers?

MS DOS Ver 1.0 did not have OS support for device drivers. DOS ver2 added support for device drivers in the config.sys file during boot with the "DEVICE=[path][filename][parameters]". Did CP/M have ...