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MS-DOS Is 30 Years Old Today 433

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the for-some-unit-of-measure dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Thirty years ago, on July 27 1981, Microsoft bought the rights for QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Seattle Computer Products (SCP) for $25,000. QDOS, otherwise known as 86-DOS, was designed by SCP to run on the Intel 8086 processor, and was originally thrown together in just two months for a 0.1 release in 1980 (thus the name). Meanwhile, IBM had planned on powering its first Personal Computer with CP/M-86, which had been the standard OS for Intel 8086 and 8080 architectures at the time, but a deal could not be struck with CP/M's developer, Digital Research. IBM then approached Microsoft, which already had a few of years of experience under its belt with M-DOS, BASIC, and other important tools — and as you can probably tell from the landscape of the computer world today, the IBM/Microsoft partnership worked out rather well indeed."
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MS-DOS Is 30 Years Old Today

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  • by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:22AM (#36895940) Homepage

    For Microsoft.

    • It worked well for IBM, too, at the time. They have also successfully transformed their business model into something quite different, and are still quietly profitable. Sounds like a win to me.
      • Sounds like a win to me.

        Yes win for MS, win for IBM...shame about us users though, isn't it!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yeah all this cheap, ubiquitous, amazingly capable computing is terrible for users. We really lost.

          Go ahead and predict the past future if things were the way you wanted them if you must, but that's a bankrupt exercise in wish fulfillment.

      • Yeah, the partnership was so successful that IBM eventually launched it's own OS (OS2) in an attempt to retake the PC market, which failed and lead to their exit from the PC business all together. Yes, IBM survived, but it's a shadow of what it used to be. Ask any of their many ex-employees.
        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          Yeah, the partnership was so successful that IBM eventually launched it's own OS (OS2) in an attempt to retake the PC market

          Given this fact, none of your "points" seem to make sense. IBM was partnering with Microsoft to upgrade DOS to support the protected mode of 286's, and then later 386's, they were not "launching [their] own OS in an attempt to retake the PC market"

          You did know that OS/2 1.0 was entirely written by Microsoft, right? Oh.. you didn't? Yeah. Thats why your opinion on these matters means less than nothing. You are ignorant of the facts.

  • wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:22AM (#36895948)

    what a half assed summary, and it was not the IBM/Microsoft partnership that did shit, its the MS licencing agreement that allowed MS to sell to other people than IBM that made a huge fucking difference when the clones came in and obliterated IBM at their own game

    • You're right about the clones and the resulting rise of MS. OTOH, the original IBM PC did do one important thing. It legitimized personal microcomputers in big business. Many large corporations would not allow Apple ][ no matter how badly finance people wanted Visicalc. The IBM name was what made it happen.

  • DOS is still being used in some places...
    • Yep, and it still sucks.

      Perhaps the most important lesson I learned in my youth is that marketing beats quality or usability. I remember in 1993 or so, buying a Zip drive to hook up to my Amiga and telling one of my friends about it. His reaction (as a DOS/Windows 3 user) was "where did you get a driver from?" He was gobsmacked to find out that I didn't need one.

      Okay, so I'm an old fart, but I'm not going to wax poetic over DOS. I never liked it, because somehow, I saw through the marketing and understo

      • Re:Still in use (Score:5, Insightful)

        by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:53AM (#36896602) Journal

        I'm an Amiga bigot from waaaay back, too. (My first computer as an adult was an Amiga 1000, or just an Amiga when it was originally sold.).

        But as a former frontline flamewarrior, I have to say: It's time to come out of the jungle. We lost that war. Yes, our chosen computer was vastly superior in every way. The difference was that Commodore couldn't sell T-bone steak and potato chips to starving people. Commmodore-brand sushi would be marketed under the tagline "The best cold, dead raw fish you've ever had!".

        Superior marketing always wins. That's the lesson here, Amiga Persecution Complex notwithstanding.

        • Oh, yeah, I agree with you 100%. I'm currently a hard-core Linux lover, though I have got to say that I miss the days of being able to write scripts that could prompt for a needed resource just by referring to the resource. That was a wicked nice touch in the OS. On the other hand, I don't miss the incessant click-click-click of the floppy drive, and I would say that in the last decade, PC technology caught up with where the Amiga was in the early 90's, and has since surpassed it.

          Note, though, getting ba

        • by Yunzil (181064)

          The difference was that Commodore couldn't sell T-bone steak and potato chips to starving people.

          The difference is Commodore spent their marketing budget (and R&D budget) paying their CEO a stupid salary.

        • I bought an Amiga 1000 on 26-Jul-86

          7 years earlier I had bought my first computer (a TRS80)

          In 1980 I bought my 2nd computer, that one had color, a disk drive and a keyboard with 117 keys (Compucolor II )

          I didn't buy an MS-DOS machine until 1994

          The machine I used the longest was an Amiga B2000 1988 to 2002 (I sold it because I left the country, it was still going at the time)

          And to those people that say I am old, I'd just like to point out that I work with people who are 50 years older than me.

    • Yeah, mostly on Linux boxes by old-fart gamers who need it to play Lode Runner [wikipedia.org] or some other "legacy" diversion.

    • Re:Still in use (Score:5, Interesting)

      by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:50AM (#36896536) Journal
      I teach a 1 credit DOS class at my local community college, and have had a number of students tell me the batch file stuff they learn has been useful in their jobs.
  • by thomasdz (178114) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:23AM (#36895974)

    I remember the big jump from DOS 1.0 to 2.0... They added subdirectories (folders)! what a concept.

    I still occasionally boot up machines with MSDOS v6.22 ... in order to run my copy of WordPerfect v5.1 :-)

    • Yes v6.2 rocked! You could run in compressed mode and double your HD space!
      • by idontgno (624372)

        Yes v6.2 rocked! You could run in compressed mode and double your likelihood of catastrophic data loss!

        FTFY. Doublespace was playing craps every second of every day of your life and hoping you don't ever crap out.

        Hard disks were expensive, but I learned early on: delete your own unneeded data, or let Doublespace delete everything.... your choice.

        And talking about Doublespace/Drivespace... brings up (A) one of the earliest examples of Microsoft playing dirty pool with prospective partners, and (B)(to my re

    • by stox (131684)

      The jump was from PC/DOS 1.1 to 2.0. 1.0 was very short lived.

    • by Chemisor (97276) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @11:19AM (#36897120)

      And just remember how WordPerfect 5.1 met all your word processing needs in less than 640k, while OpenOffice writer needs 640M to do it.

  • United Way (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moby Cock (771358) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:24AM (#36895996) Homepage

    IBM then approached Microsoft, which already had a few of years of experience under its belt with M-DOS, BASIC, and other important tools

    I think that IBM was 'approached' by MS. Gates' mother had contacts through her role as a high ranking official in the United Way. That got Bill a foot in the door and he made good on the opportunity. Major successes are often a convergence of skill, ambition and blind luck, and the MS fortune is, I think, one of those cases.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Major successes are often a convergence of skill, ambition and blind luck

      And a woman to open doors. I know this is Slashdot, but there's a reason behind every successful man is a woman. True to geekdom, for Bill Gates, it was his mother.

    • IBM was already doing business with MS for programming languages. When they could not cut a deal with Gary Kildall for CP/M on the IBM PC, they went to MS and asked them for suggestions. At that point, Bill Gates had heard about QDOS and told IBM that MS could provide them with an OS.
      The reason that IBM was willing to trust this kid was because his Mom worked with the CEO of IBM on the United Way board. Of course the other reason IBM was willing to work with MS was because they were in the middle of a big
    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Microsoft was already well established in the market by that point. It was hard to find a machine that did not have a Microsoft BASIC baked into a ROM chip, and even harder to find one that didn't rely on any Microsoft BASIC at all. Everyone used Microsoft.

      IBM was doing business with an already established partner when they contracted Microsoft for an OS.
  • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:24AM (#36895998)
    The MS-DOS acronym It always made me wonder. If QDOS was Quick and Dirty Operating System, then surely MS-DOS is Microsoft Dirty Operating System. It's a weird way to brand your product.
  • Worked out well? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:34AM (#36896168)

    and as you can probably tell from the landscape of the computer world today, the IBM/Microsoft partnership worked out rather well indeed.

    Worked out well for who? Microsoft? Okay, true. IBM? Nope. You and I? Nope. Other than a few pockets at MS, who did it work out well for?

    • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd.harrelsonfamily@org> on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @11:04AM (#36896824) Homepage

      Well, I remember when I was a kid, the computer world was very fragmented. Apple was incompatible with Atari was incompatible with Commodore was incompatible with IBM. Need I mention the other minor players, such as Franklin, Acorn, TI, Sinclair, etc.? Great game came out? Odds are it won't run on the system that YOU have. As much as I generally dislike the major players, at least there are only three major platforms that you have to develop for. In fact, you can develop a game for only one market, and still have the opportunity to make quite a bit of money.

      • by itsdapead (734413)

        Well, I remember when I was a kid, the computer world was very fragmented. Apple was incompatible with Atari was incompatible with Commodore was incompatible with IBM.

        ...but for serious business computing, long before MS-DOS, there was CP/M, which ran on hardware from many different manufacturers. As a kid, you didn't want one (a) because you couldn't afford it and (b) the cheaper, fragmented systems had cool things like sound and colour graphics. It was, however, sufficiently important that you could even buy Z80-based second processors for 6502 systems like the Apple and BBC Micro to run CP/M. By that time, device-independent graphics libraries for CP/M were cropping

  • by wmbetts (1306001)

    This makes me feel old...

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:45AM (#36896410)
    C:\dos
    C:\dos\run
    run\dos\run
  • by dingen (958134) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:49AM (#36896496)
    Of course MS-DOS, or any other DOS-like "operating system" (it's really nothing more than a loader) is utter crap when measured by todays standards. But because DOS was such a massive platform in its day, there is a gigantic wealth of applications and games for it. Especially most of the games are still great when played today. That's why DosBox is such an amazing piece of software: it lets anyone tap into that extremely large pool of really cool stuff. Even though I've played loads of those kind of games, I still discover new and fun ones from time to time and I have a great time with them. So I guess in the end, MS-DOS isn't so bad after all.
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      OS/2 was cool, and more than a loader

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by GooberToo (74388)

        OS/2 was the first real OS I used. Later I "upgraded" to windows, as forced by my employer. What a major step backwards, especially in usability and reliability.

        I still remember when our OS/2 server was forcefully migrated to NT. Some bonehead left the CDROM drive open and had shared the drive. Later, when someone attempted to access the shared CDROM drive, the entire server hung waiting for someone physically in front of the computer to acknowledge the drive was inaccessible. Once someone clicked OKAY, the

      • by dingen (958134)
        I don't consider OS/2 to be a "DOS-like operating system", even though it has a DOS compatibility layer and is thus capable of running some DOS applications (including Windows 3).
        • by iggymanz (596061)

          the first OS/2 was command line only, with very DOS-like commands.

          • by dingen (958134)
            Thanks, I didn't know that. The only version of OS/2 I have used myself was OS/2 Warp 3.0. I assumed every version of OS/2 was always sort of like that one, but apparently that's not true.
      • OS/2 was meant to be a successor to DOS, so it's not really fair to compare them. The first computer I got with DOS had an 8MHz 16-bit CPU, 640KB of RAM, and used 360KB floppy disks. And this machine was close to the high end for early versions of DOS. Running OS/2 on such a machine would have been impossible.
  • ...the IBM/Microsoft partnership worked out rather well indeed.

    Well for whom ? Bill Gates, sure. IBM wasn't very happy with it by the end. The rest of us...

    • by hedwards (940851)

      are still trying to figure out how to get our TSRs to use himem so that we can play our games.

  • MS did not own QDOS when they sold it to IBM. Oh, and Bill Gate's mother was on the board of IBM. And what a crap OS DOS was; it held the industry back 10 years. Thankfully MS no longer has that sort of power; you could tell they were slipping when they failed to smother the Internet and force everybody onto MSN. Now, the only real drag they can impose on progress is via patent shakedowns.

  • Worked out well? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @10:59AM (#36896752) Journal
    and as you can probably tell from the landscape of the computer world today, the IBM/Microsoft partnership worked out rather well indeed."

    Worked out well? In what sense did it work out well? Economically for Microsoft and IBM? Perhaps. For the rest of the world that suffers working under the decrepit POS that is Windows OS? Not so much. IMNSHO, DOS was a terrific mistake and its adoption 30 years ago has directly hindered the development of the computer industry.

    • In what sense did it work out well? Economically for Microsoft and IBM? Perhaps. For the rest of the world that suffers working under the decrepit POS that is Windows OS?

      For the rest of the world there is Linux.

  • To be honest, UNIX ran poorly on under-powered x86 chips until well into the 1990s. In fact MicroSoft owned PC UNIX, called Xenix [wikipedia.org], around the time it started DOS, then off-loaded it to SCO.
  • by master_p (608214) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @11:09AM (#36896920)

    By introducing such a lame technology like the IBM PC and MS DOS, IBM/Microsoft set back the IT industry 20 years or more.

    We could have 32 bit machines with GUI, preemptive multitasking and hardware-accelerated 3D graphics much earlier.

    • by stox (131684)

      We already had all of those things prior to the release of the PC. Expensive as all hell at the time, though.

    • I had an Amiga in 1985 with all that except 2D instead of 3D. There were viable alternatives to DOS - and those of us happily using them laughed at the little single-tasking green screens with their beeps and text interfaces - but all of them but MacOS fell by the wayside for various reasons.

  • Obviously IBM was pretty damn generous in it's dealing with Microsoft, what the heck was Digital holding out for?
  • by spikenerd (642677) on Wednesday July 27, 2011 @12:00PM (#36897780)
    Wahoo! just 60? more years until science and the useful arts will benefit from this tremendous innovation as it finally falls into the public domain.

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