Microsoft's MS-DOS turns 30 this week

By on July 28, 2011, 3:00 PM

Thirty years ago this week, Microsoft set in motion a series of events that would make them the largest name in personal computing and its founders some of the richest men on the planet.

On July 27, 1981, Microsoft finalized a deal to purchase what was then called QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Seattle Computer Products. QDOS was authored by Tim Paterson, a programmer for SCP that had written the operating system for use on in-house hardware.

Once purchased by Microsoft, the operating system was renamed MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) and was bundled with the IBM PC shortly after.

As the story goes, IBM came to Microsoft in 1981 and requested an operating system for their line of personal computers. IBM's original plan was to use Digital Research's CP/M-86 OS but the two were never able to iron out a deal. Instead, IBM went with Microsoft's 86-DOS and shipped it on IBM computers as PC-DOS. Microsoft paid a total of $75,000 for the eventual goldmine.

Paterson landed a job with Microsoft in May 1981 and eventually worked with the company on and off until 1998. He now runs Paterson Technology, a small company that develops unique hardware and software products near Seattle, Washington.

MS-DOS had a solid run and was updated several times since its debut.Its eventual demise would come in 1994, just a year before Microsoft released Windows 95. Microsoft has released several major revisions since WIndows 95, with current version Windows 7 being the fastest selling operating system in history.




User Comments: 33

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Kralnor said:

Hip hip hooray!

Win7Dev said:

The scarier part is that DOS is still sort of used. The repair console on the windows xp install disk is based off of MS-DOS.

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

What works well, works well. What worked well, was working en-lieu for its expectations. Hip hip hooray for DOS!

Guest said:

Wish I would have bought some MS stock back then. I had 10k sitting in the bank and was going to do it, but the wife gave me second thoughts and i never pulled the trigger.....she is ex-wife now !

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I miss DOS in a way. When using it, at least you felt you were in total command of what was going on with your computer. Now with Windows, I don't even know what half of the 100 processes are running in the background.

Guest said:

i've got an unopened package of DOS.. 6.1 I think..

Guest said:

I totally feel for you. I really miss DOS for the simple fact of knowing exactly every single thing running in my system. The only thing I don't miss is the 640k base memory. I would gladly still use DOS if I could get my job done to be perfectly honest. I surely don't mind typing instead of clicking.

Guest said:

I don't miss the non-reentrancy either.

jafo818 said:

I saw a DOS screen at a local McDonald's drive through the other night... They still run it!

g4mer said:

Lot's of shops and firms still use MS-DOS look-a-like programs because they're easy and simple to use.

Guest said:

I remember when I installed for first time the windows 95 (in which you didn't had to type "win" for start the windows shell like in 3.11) I was search inside the autoexec.bat for delete the "win" command. And I was very upset because I didn't found it :)

Guest said:

i started my computer career learning dos and still use it for customers who are

running a dos program called GarageKeeper for service stations. windows 7 is

no problem and xp was even better. i love it and keep all the tools including

my microsoft complier. i think dos or some form of it will always be with us

untill the big softftware houses (microsoft and the rest) produce a whole new

OS.

treetops treetops said:

something like that, i first remember pounding on my granpas key board as a kid just to see it type out letters, i thought it was pretty cool at 5 years old that I could press a button on keyboard and it would appear on a screen

Guest said:

CP/M operating system and founded Digital Research, Inc. WAS GARY KiLDALL

Guest said:

So even MS's original OS was created by someone else. I find that majorly ironic. Innovation has never been strong with them.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

+1 Loka

But hey in those days I spent lots of time troubleshooting stuff (which we now take for granted), but that was nothing out of ordinary as even the Macs of that era could be a major pita.

@Last Guest

For example, Not everything in the original Mac OS was 'innovated' by apple - by the way, most of its ideas came about from Xerox Alto project (minus the final UI and few other things), for which Jobs gave them stock options of the company. A little reference from history just in case.

Guest said:

Archean, did you even see the word "Apple" in my post ? Or did I come on as a happy Apple fanboy who bashes MS first chance he gets ? I don't own a single Apple product and don't intend to buy any soon, cause they're just overpriced.

You're probably employed by MS then :)

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sorry I didn't intend it to sound that way, accordingly corrections has been made.

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

Guest said:

So even MS's original OS was created by someone else. I find that majorly ironic. Innovation has never been strong with them.

yea and they basically stole it from the guy

emmzo said:

stewi0001 said:

Guest said:

So even MS's original OS was created by someone else. I find that majorly ironic. Innovation has never been strong with them.

yea and they basically stole it from the guy

Everybody steals, look at the patent lawsuits these days and that has been since forever, but that's not the point. Gates refined it and marketed it otherwise the guy who made this would have probably still use the code today in his basement for some obscure research project.

Guest said:

That feeling of your DOS screen maximising on my good old 14" CRT when I played Wolfenstein 3D... awesome!

free4rm said:

So hard to remember that DOS syntax now days!

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I miss DOS in a way. When using it, at least you felt you were in total command of what was going on with your computer. Now with Windows, I don't even know what half of the 100 processes are running in the background.
Ya know Tom, if you have a hundred processes going, that computer is running you, not the other way around! (Just Kidding).

Guest said:

Fancy coming across this. I still keep deltree and format in the root directory from an old set of 6.22 dics. Very helpful when windows says you are not authorised to delete files when you are the admin. Windows still has its little faults.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well there is this security tab through which one can assign rights/take ownership, just a side note really.

MrAnderson said:

I think MS-DOS stopped at version 7.x before Windows 95 and 98 took over... I only think this because I distinctly remeber having backed up copies of my DOS with version 7 written on my 1.44 floppies... or maybe there were serevn install disks... but I recall it being version seven...

Anywayz it would be cool if they released the source could at least for learning purposes. So programmers can learn about the OS that started it all.

lopdog lopdog said:

Happy Birthday! I liked DOS, actually.

And believe it or not, I still use DOS commands quite often, even if it is through Windows 7 command prompt. That comment about good old Wolfenstein also brought back good memories.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I still use DOS commands quite often, even if it is through Windows 7 command prompt.

And you are not alone in this habit.

MrAnderson said:

Yup, most power users or IT pros will still be using DOS or the command prompt to get past the obscurities of parts of the GUI. I still cd command pretty often.

fpsgamerJR62 said:

Floppy-based versions of MS-DOS may have stopped with the advent of Windows 95 but the Windows 9x series was still pretty much DOS-based. I remember my last MS-DOS version was 6.22 before I switched to Windows 95. I think the last DOS version might have been version 8 which came with Windows ME although I've never come across any Microsoft documentation referring to such version. Just for fun, I still run my Lotus 123 version 2.4 spreadsheet and a couple other home-brewed programs from the 80s in my XP SP3 machine. Runs just fine under command prompt.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I still run my Lotus 123 version 2.4 spreadsheet

I still have quattro pro 4 buried somewhere on one of my PC's HDDs, although TBH I haven't used it in years, nor there seems to be any chance of it in near future.

Guest said:

There is absolutely no reason to use Windows XP today. So no its not really being used very much now.

Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

And after 30 years I still miss it. DOS was always my favourite operating system. You had to know what you were doing to use it, but as someone else stated, YOU were in full control, if there was a background process it was because YOU put it there.

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