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28

Different terminals didn’t (and don’t) use different kernel-level drivers. In Unix-style systems, the kernel does provide some terminal-related features, called line disciplines and the TTY layer which you mention; there is typically at least a raw line discipline (which doesn’t perform any translation), and a cooked line discipline (which provides more-or-...


28

The BIOS originated as part of the CP/M operating system. It was the "layer" that interfaced directly with the hardware and as such, was usually machine specific. The idea is that, if you separate out the hardware interactions into one module and provide a standardised interface that the rest of the OS uses (and user programs), then the only thing you need ...


16

they save every program from needing its own separate encyclopedic knowledge of every printer on the market. But then came PostScript, the theory behind which was that you would prepare a printable file in a standard format For one, Postscript isn't a standard format printable file, but a standard format document description. It may (and does) contain ...


12

CP/M was hardware independent - there was no notion of a reference machine (as the IBM PC was for MS-DOS), so CP/M could not provide drivers. The hardware producer had to develop the drivers and deliver them with CP/M, and the driver package was simply called BIOS ("Basic Input/Output System"). This worked quite well over the lifetime of CP/M. MS-DOS ...


12

The simple answer is that they just didn't need them! Why reinvent the wheel, when the required interface is already provided by the ROM BIOS? This allows the operating system to be more portable and to support a wider variety of machines and hardware from different vendors, because the vendor provides and is responsible for the ROM BIOS routines. Size of ...


11

This was not done by a “driver” at the OS level as you are thinking of it. In Unix, there were drivers that dealt with the RS232 interface and these were surfaced as /dev/tty* devices and dealt with things like speed, echo, etc. As for escape sequences controlling the display of the terminal, that is not done at the “driver” level as you are thinking of it....


11

Cost There are significant licensing costs and equipment costs. I'm sure PostScript needs quite a bit more RAM & processing than some of the lower levels of PCL and similar printer languages. As I noted in my answer on trackballs and elsewhere, even a small increase in cost can have a big impact on sales and/or profitability, particularly at the low end ...


10

Like most busses of its time, you had to write your own software to communicate between the cards. The term device driver wasn't widespread at the time, but that is what you were writing. The S-100 bus (IEEE696), with its standard 100-pin socket could support a number of different cards. While it was common to have a processor card, memory card and ...


10

PostScript was quite demanding. In the early days a PostScript printer might well be the most powerful computer in the building, hence expensive. University students ran jobs on the printer to get done faster. In a world where price is important, this was most likely the primary reason. Look at the cheapest printers available and check if they run ...


9

"It depends". I'm answering this in the context of DEC timesharing systems, since that's the natural habitat of a DEC VT100. There's a hardware device such as a DZ11 terminal multiplexer (8 lines) that controls terminal lines by some physical protocol, such as RS232 or 20mA current loop. The physical protocol is a matter for the hardware. But the OS needs ...


7

To expand on @RicoPajarola's comment, this is almost definitely the software not properly handling files with long (or lowercase / etc.) filenames on a FAT filesystem. Originally, the FAT filesystem only supported filenames of up to 8 characters (+ up to 3 characters for the extension). Also - lowercase letters, spaces and unicode weren't supported. Later, ...


7

An important thing is that old-style expansion buses - that includes S100, als well as the PC ISA bus and various proprietary buses, had no enumeration capability - a computer system was not aware of what was installed in the slots unless it explicitedly tried using any of that hardware - and what I/O addresses it responded to. Neither could I/O resource ...


7

The simplest Unibus card is the G727 Grant Continuity Card, which does nothing except forward certain daisy-chained bus signals from one slot to the next. You can see a picture of one on the Wikipedia Unibus page. But a Grant Continuity Card is arguably not really a "device". I think the simplest device would be a 1-word ROM. Still pretty useless but at ...


7

From your pictures you have a CD-ROM manufactured by Matsushita for IBM with a model number of CR-563BBZ. This drive uses Matsushita's proprietary interface, so won't work with the the OAKCDROM.SYS driver which only supports CD-ROM drives using the IDE interface. It is however not connected to your sound card, its connected to it's own LaserMate CD-ROM ...


6

If you're using Linux, there is kernel support for the parallel ZIP disk, at least on Intel architectures; if you're willing to play with the dependencies, it might even be possible to compile the drivers on non-Intel architectures, but I make no guarantees! You'll need to enable the following drivers in Device Drivers: parport_pc (under Parallel port ...


5

Two more slightly different situations from the past (well, everything in Retrocomputing is from the past...): 3270 Emulation When I was at the University of Maryland, College Park in the early 1980s, there were some Vaxes, a Univac 1100/80 and some other non-IBM large systems, and there were some micros (my first networking course was on the then brand ...


4

I guess that's a field one can come up with many views - and all presented answers so far give a valid view with lots of additional information. This is intended to break it down to a more general statements: No, at the core no OS offers terminal drivers. Just serial (or whatever) line drivers handling bare communication to a device connected. Input (and ...


4

Yet another factor that hasn't been mentioned is that ink jet printers have become far more common than laser printers, and have a critical ability that laser printers lack, which in turn propelled the use of PostScript: the ability to suspend and resume printing in the middle of a page. Normal printer drivers could print pages which were too complex to fit ...


4

[I am assuming the question is limited to functionality built into the PC, not functionality added via installed cards etc. Obviously the BIOS couldn't provide routines for the latter, so drivers would have to be supplied] Having lived through the introduction of the original IBM PC, I have to say that in my opinion the submitter has the question backwards ...


3

Your best bet to rescue this data, in my opinion, will be to use the Linux operating system. It supports older hardware extremely well compared to most operating systems. If you know what you are doing, you can install Linux on a Windows system and select which operating system to use at boot, and there are also live DVDs (which can also be installed on ...


3

One of the things to understand here, was that at the time of CP/M you had very little memory and it was a long time ago where many concepts had not been introduced yet. Drivers came later when computers could be modified easily with new hardware. Those days the computer was very much what you had when you purchased it. The BIOS layer is essentially what ...


3

Check the format your CD writing software is producing; these days there are two major formats, UDF and ISO9660/Joliet. Versions of Windows older than Windows 98 SE, however, only understands ISO9660 or Joliet so would be unable to read a UDF-formatted disc. If your Win98 is not SE, or if your writer software is using more recent extensions to the UDF ...


3

Yes, getting only 16 colors is a classic symptom of the video driver not being properly installed. This used to be a big problem on Windows 9x; the default driver only did VGA (640×480, 4-bit color), and most contemporary systems did not have drivers bundled with the OS. I was working as a technician in a repair shop around this time, and remember ...


3

There was no BIOS on the early computers. There was only the hardware. To get CP/M to work on a computer, somebody had to write a BIOS which would receive calls from CP/M (read character, write character, read disk sector, write disk sector) and make the hardware obey. If your computer didn't have a ready-made CP/M distribution (which would have been ...


3

In addition to manassehkatz's answer, the other reason for printer drivers is to reduce cost in the printer. A postscript interpreter requires significant computing resources, especially for complex documents. By doing that processing on the computer and then sending a simpler, easier to handle data stream to the printer you can leverage the greater power of ...


3

I can't readily find a really definitive reference, but the LaserWriter driver on Classic Mac OS could be used for basic printing functionality on many PostScript printers, and it appears a similar thing exists on modern macOS (f.k.a. OS X). Printer-specific configuration and functions are specified to this driver in a PostScript Printer Description (ppd) ...


3

We have to distinguish between different cases, but in most cases the answer seems to be "no": In "early" systems (like the Altair 680 in home computing or 1960s professional computers) programs simply wrote bytes to the serial port and they read bytes from there. In fact, such machines often did not even have an operating system. If you used VT-100 (as ...


3

The DEC VT100 itself did not have a driver. When you connect a terminal like a VT100 to a serial port it was a just tty device. VAX/VMS used a utility to configure devices for the operating system. As a Field Engineer, I had to run the utility after adding a new controller like serial line multiplexer to a VAX system or MicroVAX. This was followed by ...


2

I think the most basic answer to your question is that PS did not describe an interface, only the document. So at a minimum you needed to implement some sort of physical interface on the printer, say Ethernet or Centronics, and then write a driver for the computer. For much of the history since then, this basic pattern has not changed. It's worth pointing ...


2

The easiest way to "add" a vintage storage device to a modern PC may be to acquire an old PC with which the device can communicate easily and then add a networking adapter that can allow the old PC to exchange information with the new PC. I haven't followed the evolution of networking protocols well enough to know which protocols would be supported by both ...


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