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Microsoft GUI Operating Systems Windows

Recalling Windows 1.0 At 25 Years 384

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the if-you-knew-then dept.
alphadogg writes "When Microsoft released the very first version of Windows nearly 25 years ago, on Nov. 20, 1985, it was late to the game and little used. Apple had already brought graphical user interfaces to computers with Macintosh more than a year earlier, while DOS systems dominated the market for IBM and IBM-compatible PCs. No one who used this first version was likely to have predicted that Windows would completely dominate the PC market 25 years later..."
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Recalling Windows 1.0 At 25 Years

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  • by NixieBunny (859050) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:39AM (#34161074) Homepage
    My brother has way too many old PCs and software. Here's a page with screenshots of all the old Widows stuff: http://www.selectric.org/winhist/index.html [selectric.org]
  • by Anonymusing (1450747) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:39AM (#34161082)

    Agreed. I remember trying out Windows 1.0 and thinking: this is it? Yuck. Even the initial releases of GEM [wikipedia.org] were better than Windows 1.0. It wasn't until 3.0 that Windows started being usable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:42AM (#34161104)

    "Apple had already brought graphical user interfaces to computers with Macintosh"

    More like stolen from Xerox, who was inspired by Alan Kay's ideas, who probably was at THE demo : DOUGLAS ENGLEBART [youtube.com]

    What's next? Apple invented the keyboard? The mouse? The bit? Gimme a break.

    What about GEOS for the Commodore 64? GEOS [wikipedia.org]

    I mean when it came out it looked better than Windows and did more. Too bad Commodore was unable to get its act together on the hardware side.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:43AM (#34161120) Journal
    3.0 wasn't bad. I ran it on my 8086 for a while. It was pretty easy to break, but most of that was due to the machine not having an MMU, so even the best written program couldn't prevent other code from breaking it. It ran moderately well in 640KB of RAM, as long as you didn't try running too many programs at once (where 'too many' is more than 2-3, or more than one large program). My father's company got their first license for free with a program called MetaDesign, a diagramming program. The company that made it decided that it was easier to write it for Win16 and bundle a copy of Windows than it was to write their own 2D graphics and windowing toolkit.
  • Re:Amiga (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:47AM (#34161142)

    The first Macintosh was released in 1984, Windows 1.0 and Amiga each came out in 1985. When Windows 1.0 came out, which is the context of this article, Apple was the dominant force and the Amiga had still only moved a handful of units.

  • The grandfather (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:50AM (#34161160)
    Apple was not the first company to offer a computer GUI. Xerox offered the Star workstation [wikipedia.org] in 1981 but it was not a commercial success. In exchange for Apple stock [cognitivevent.com], Apple designers were granted a tour of Xerox PARC as well as rights to use some of the PARC research. Apple would use this know how along with their own research to build Lisa then the Mac.
  • Re:Amiga (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:52AM (#34161172)

    "lets not confuse the facts with misty eyed nostalgia"
    Says the one who can't check facts himself and indulges in wrong nostalgia instead.

    Check the facts yourself: Amiga was launched in 1985. [wikipedia.org]

    Facts. Easy to check these days, Osgeld.

  • by jbengt (874751) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:56AM (#34161212)

    More like stolen from Xerox, . . .

    Actually, IIRC, Apple paid (un-necessarily, as it turns out) for the use of Xerox Parc ideas.

  • Windows 1.0 review (Score:5, Informative)

    by sfraggle (212671) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:57AM (#34161220)

    A while ago, I scanned in [flickr.com] a review of Windows 1.0 that I found in an old magazine. It's quite interesting to read - the subtitle is "brightening up MS-DOS", and it is described as taking only four seconds to switch applications, compared to 30 seconds to start Microsoft Word from scratch! Glad to see some things never change.

  • by voss (52565) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:05AM (#34161274)

    Remember that Commodore 64 program? :)

  • by BrightSpark (1578977) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:07AM (#34161296)
    Yup, I used Dosshell (ascii menuing system) on my IBM-Compatible (MS-DOS of course, not PC-DOS) rather than use anything that needed a mouse until I got my 286. Still, this was a vast improvement over the old 1983 Commodore64 and the tape drive, where a saved game or document was accessed by fast forwarding a standard audio cassette to a preset number you had written down, then type load" and play! Which in turn beats a stack of punch cards, typing blind with no monitor and asking an nice operator to pop your disk pack into a large washing machine for you :-) Happy days. Tell the young people of today that, and they won't believe yer!
  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:08AM (#34161298) Homepage Journal

    Your history is off too. The VMS roots are even on their face only very lightly there (no code, they just hired a kernel team composed significantly of ex-VMS kernelfolk and some aspects of the VMS design went in), the BSD roots are hardly there at all, and the OS/2 roots were predominant.

  • by vbraga (228124) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:19AM (#34161422) Journal

    Xerox received compensation for it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PARC_(company)#Adoption_by_Apple [wikipedia.org]

    The first successful commercial GUI product was the Apple Macintosh, which was heavily inspired by PARC's work; Xerox was allowed to buy pre-IPO stock from Apple in exchange for engineer visits and an understanding that Apple would create a GUI product.

  • Re:Open Hardware (Score:3, Informative)

    by jimicus (737525) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:26AM (#34161498)

    I dunno - the knives weren't just pointed at DR-DOS. All this came out in the first antitrust trials - any OEM wanting to sell so much as a single box without Windows either paid for Windows anyway or had to pay full price. And the OEM price was such a deep discount that foregoing that discount would effectively block that OEM from selling Windows PCs at a competitive price.

    Before Microsoft went all-out on the "let's kill everything on the PC that isn't DOS/Windows" crusade, there was a thriving market for all sorts of applications, many of which either bundled their own GUI, bundled GEM or simply didn't have a GUI at all.

  • Re:Open Hardware (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:29AM (#34161522)

    If you bought IBM's technical manual for the PC, you got full schematics and source code for the BIOS. It might not be free, but it was very open.

  • Re:Open Hardware (Score:3, Informative)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:30AM (#34161536)

    I don't think he was really alluding to the CP/M license debacle. That was several years earlier.

    During that they did KINDA screw over the creator of QDOS (the source that became MS-DOS), but that's business.

    What was worse was the intentional compatibility errors Microsoft introduced over the years to keep competitor's software and/or OS's from being compatible, hence further driving the purchase of MS software.

    The old classic phrase from the 80's is the major example: "DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run."

  • PageMaker (Score:3, Informative)

    by aaronrp (773980) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:34AM (#34161576) Homepage Journal
    Aldus PageMaker 3 ran under Windows 2. It came with the run-time version of Windows (that could only be used with that one application), but ran properly under the full Windows 2. We used it for typesetting in college. At the time, PageMaker was the "it" program.

    I think the original Balance of Power game ran under Windows 1 run-time.

  • by RDW (41497) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:42AM (#34161652)

    3.0 was where I came in, and it wasn't that much worse than 3.1 (I dimly recall that the first practical application we had that required Windows was the control and analysis software for a lab instrument). This site has a nice history of GUIs, including early versions of Windows:

    http://toastytech.com/guis/index.html [toastytech.com]
    http://toastytech.com/guis/indexwindows.html [toastytech.com]

    My first GUI was actually Suntools, several years before I tried a Mac (or Windows 3):

    http://toastytech.com/guis/sv35.html [toastytech.com]

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:51AM (#34161736) Homepage

    Why even write the article if you're going to be talking with people so unfamiliar with the software. You're arguing semantics whether it was in or on DOS for it wasn't until XP that the consumer line stopped using it.

    The guy was probably just misremembering, and thinking of MS-DOS Executive. See this page [wikipedia.org]. It wasn't until Windows 3.0 that the Program Manager made its appearance. Until that point, you basically got a file manager, and had to navigate, find your executable, and run it, at which point the executive hid itself away.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:51AM (#34161738)

    More like stolen from Xerox, who was inspired by Alan Kay's ideas, who probably was at THE demo : DOUGLAS ENGLEBART

    By stolen, do you mean that Apple paid Xerox [fool.com] with IPO shares for a tour and a private demo with Q/A session with Xerox engineers? For most people, when you pay for something it's not "stolen". Xerox engineers did not like the idea but was directed by Xerox corporate to show their research with Apple. Even then, Apple did not blindly copy the Alto but took ideas and concepts from Xerox but made their own implementation with some of their own research.

  • Re:Amiga (Score:2, Informative)

    by SirThe (1927532) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:56AM (#34161792)
    The Apple Lisa directly ripped off Xerox's PARC.
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:56AM (#34161802)

    Xerox did all the hard work, mostly sinking cash into developer/human/computer/child interaction. They really worked hard with human testing and code. Apple got hold of most of that due to Xerox been a paper pusher and not really having a final digital vision after an expensive effort trying to master the emerging paperless digital world.

    My research [cognitivevent.com] says that Apple also did not merely copy Xerox's work. If you've looked at the Alto and the first Mac, you'd see that they are not copies. Apple paid Xerox for their ideas but did their own implementation of those ideas based on their own research as well.

  • Re:Amiga (Score:3, Informative)

    by Imagix (695350) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:59AM (#34161820)
    Back up a little further. You forgot the Apple Lisa. 1983.
  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@[ ]f.net ['wor' in gap]> on Monday November 08, 2010 @11:14AM (#34161982)

    More like stolen from Xerox, who was inspired by Alan Kay's ideas, who probably was at THE demo : DOUGLAS ENGLEBART

    By stolen, do you mean that Apple paid Xerox with IPO shares for a tour and a private demo with Q/A session with Xerox engineers? For most people, when you pay for something it's not "stolen". Xerox engineers did not like the idea but was directed by Xerox corporate to show their research with Apple. Even then, Apple did not blindly copy the Alto but took ideas and concepts from Xerox but made their own implementation with some of their own research.

    Actually, Apple did a lot more - they took the idea from Xerox, but they made it better. Apple never got any source code, they just got the concept from Xerox. It was not only reimplemented from scratch, but implemented better - the Alto demo did not have overlapping windows, for example. Steve Wozniak banged his head around how overlapping windows worked and invented clipping regions (which he got a patent for). He also got into a plane accident with his Piper during that time (and was known for telling Jobs "I still know how to do regions" when Jobs visited him in the hospital).

    Eventually he contacted Xerox to find out how they did overlapping windows and found out their system didn't.

    As for Windows 1.0, I believe it made it into DOS 5 as "DOS Shell" - if you look at it, the graphics are remarkably similar, and DOS Shell even had multitasking.

  • by pezpunk (205653) on Monday November 08, 2010 @11:14AM (#34161984) Homepage

    here's the complete text of the third page:

    "But with Windows you click over here and you're in the program. It definitely was a revolutionary change in terms of the experiences people had and the accessibility it brought to so many more people."

    so glad they didn't try to cram that wall of text on to the second page. it might have bumped one of the 50 ads off the screen.

  • Re:Amiga (Score:5, Informative)

    by uglyduckling (103926) on Monday November 08, 2010 @11:53AM (#34162488) Homepage
    You need to look at the history properly rather than repeat a myth. The Xerox system used tiled windows, had modal text 'buttons' at the bottom of each window (so no visual memory of where commands are) and a whole lot of things that are different to a modern GUI. During the development of the Macintosh and Lisa, Apple invented pull-down menus and dialog boxes, to name two things that are totally central to modern GUIs. You're right that Xerox got the ball rolling (although really they were derivative, see Douglas Engelbart's video for what he was doing in the 60's), but claiming that Apple simply ripped Xerox off is utter rubbish.
  • Re:Amiga (Score:3, Informative)

    by uglyduckling (103926) on Monday November 08, 2010 @11:57AM (#34162516) Homepage
    The Atari supported 16 colours out of a palate of 512 (see here [wikipedia.org]).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @12:20PM (#34162810)

    How exactly is the Nintendo DS OS (whatever it could be) any different from plain old DOS.

    The OS code is basically the same:

    1) This is the machine
    2) You know the memory addresses
    3) You will be the only program running
    4) Do whatever you want

    The problem of Windows 1.x -> 3.x is that it tried running multiple programs and had no ways of preventing one program damaging another.

    Take a PC with sane hardware (less than 50% of those sold in the 80s) with MS-DOS and NO strange drivers (SCSI, whatever). A program could run for weeks. Does this make it a stable platform?

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday November 08, 2010 @12:34PM (#34163000) Journal

    orly? [amazonaws.com]

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday November 08, 2010 @12:40PM (#34163058) Journal

    Better yet, post the link to the “printable” version [networkworld.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @01:15PM (#34163484)

    No, because Xerox didn't have overlapping windows and there were no software patents before 1981.

  • by russryan (981552) on Monday November 08, 2010 @01:39PM (#34163882)
    Windows 1 was developed by people that had been with Microsoft and worked on MSDOS 1-3. IBM's Topview was considered to be the real competition, so Microsoft bought a company named Dynamical Systems (Nathan Myhrvold and Chuck Whitmer). This company had created a TopView clone named Mondrian that was smaller and faster than IBM's product. These are the guys that drove the effort that eventually became Windows 3.0, generally acknowledged as the first one that was good enough to use.
  • Re:Amiga (Score:3, Informative)

    by mfnickster (182520) on Monday November 08, 2010 @02:18PM (#34164468)

    the wiki even points out that the mac had crappy sales in the 80s, and well into the 90s.

    Compared to the Amiga, the Mac of the 80s was nothing more than an over priced door step that few really paid any attention to.

    I loved the Amiga, but it didn't beat the Mac in market share, even in the '80s.

    http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2005/12/total-share.ars/5 [arstechnica.com]
    http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2005/12/total-share.ars/6 [arstechnica.com]

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