Friday, August 5, 2011

DOS: The Never Ending Story

Remember DOS, with its black screen and blinking cursor eagerly waiting for your command. The Disk Operation System (DOS) celebrated its 30th anniversary a week ago. DOS has arguably been the most significant OS of all time and in honor of it turning thirty, I would like to reflect on where it has come from and where it is going.

In 1981 IBM released the PC and the following options for operating systems (OS).

  • IBM Personal Computer Disk Operating System – cost at the time: $40
  • Digital Research CP/M-86 – cost at the time: $240
  • SofTech USCD p-System w/Pascal – cost at the time: $695


For the price tag, DOS was the cost-effective choice and DOS was also the only one immediately available.  DOS dominated the market by a landslide and DOS became the operating system of choice for individuals who were lucky enough to have a PC.  DOS enjoyed its status until the release of Windows in 1985, a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that required DOS as a platform to run it on. Newer versions of Windows continued to be released and they needed DOS less and less.

Eventually, a version of Windows was developed which could run independently from DOS as it contained its own standalone OS, this was MS-Windows 95. It did, however, contain a tiny bit of the 16-bit DOS code. I guess Windows still needed a little bit of help from its trusty old friend DOS.

But all things must come to an end and in 1996 a version of Windows was released that did not need DOS. This was Windows-NT and from that point on Windows and DOS would part ways, but it has not left our lives.

There are many die-hard DOS users still out there that prefer its efficient and simplistic nature. They believe that the more “user friendly” interfaces have too many features that can muck up the system. For this reason we are still seeing new versions of DOS being developed, a few of these are FreeDOS, ROM-DOS, and DR-DOS. Some computer manufactures still make computers with DOS as the main OS. We have seen DOS change however I do not believe it's going to go the way of the eight-track provided that people still want the simple functionality of cmd enter.

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