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This is a little like how most of it looked. White characters on a black background ...

From it first wide spread release in 1981, the future of the personal computer took off. Why did IBM choose DOS (Bill Gates, et al) as the OS for its new little machine, the Personal Computer, an IBM-PC? Who knows, but to fledgling programmers like me, it had some fascinating, intricate structures. I was in love.

In 1982 I join Computer Logics, well initially, Canada Computer Products, and got involved in the MASM assembler Unisys UTS20 emulator. We added our communication board into the PC bus, loaded and took control as what would later be called a Terminate and Stay Resident (TSR) application. Multitasking off the timer tick, we could even task DOS back on, that is concurrent DOS, before such a beast commercially existed.

The interrupt from our board delivered mainframe data, and the receive task decoded the UTS protocol, and produced the screen, and keyboard feel of a dedicated UTS Terminal. And in the fast changing marketing arena we carved out a slice of the terminal market, using the ever cheapening PC. They were being manufactured by everyone, and their dog, and DOS was the OS.

Their were many 'better' DOS OS'es produced, including that by MS, and while each, including such very viable systems as Concurrent-CP/M, but they were all eventually over taken by the so called Graphical User Interface (GUI), perhaps more commonly spoken of only as windows.

Something DOS-like still exists in the latest OS from Microsoft. Perhaps sometimes it is just easier to change certain things in the PC using the Command Line interface. Of course, some windows' protagonist will shout that these are now all just a mouse click away, but if you are a touch typist, or at least very familiar with the keyboard, then it just seems easier that way. Each to their own methodology ...

However, almost total DOS compatibility was one of the important issues that helped propel windows to bubble to the top of the OS pile. For many years, and still to some extent today, strangely games were often the most incompatible as windows strengthened its base.

I still today sometime use some DOS tools. For example, WordStar had a fantastic column delete function, seldom seen in even the most modern GUI editors, that really helps a programmer build a perfect table from pages of reference data. Some other interesting capabilities still exist in my E, standing for the worlds fastest Editor, that I have not found out in the market nor been able to duplicate in the many software utilities I maintain.

A quick search using Yahoo, one of the earliest so called, portals -
From Yahoo Search : DOS History
Got :
They have a great chart, THE DOS HISTORY CHART, from 1981, which gives some time sense to when all this happened. It seems the version numbers for DOS reached 6 before it began to take a big back seat around 1993.

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