How Far DOS Has Come

August 5th, 2011

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

It’s easy to see why DOS quickly became the OS of choice. It was the least expensive and it was also the only one of the three that was immediately available. DOS dominated the realm of OS until the release of Windows in 1985. Windows, a Graphical User Interface (GUI), required DOS as a platform to run on but people quickly fell in love with its graphics and flash. Each version of Windows that was released thereafter needed DOS as a platform less and less.

When MS-Windows 95 came out it was released as a standalone system containing its own OS. It still contained a small amount of 16-bit DOS code; I guess it still needed some help from its friend.

But all good things must end. In 1996, Windows-NT was introduced and it was 100% 32-bit code. Though DOS and Windows parted ways it did not leave our lives.

There are many who are faithful to DOS.  They believe that its simplicity is both efficient and less problematic. Many think that GUI’s have too many graphics that can muck up their systems. This is one reason why we see some computer manufactures installing DOS as the main OS in their computers. Current versions of DOS include: FreeDOS, ROM-DOS, and DR-DOS. Just like many people will forever love and collect records, people will always love DOS and I see it celebrating birthdays for years to come.


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