Memories of MS-DOS

MS-DOS Spice BlendMy first exposure to MS-DOS was at my aunt’s house. She had an old IBM computer in the basement. It had an amber monitor, and all the words on the screen were a hideous shade of orange. Up to that point, I had only seen green monitors. Still, the letters were sharp and the computer was competent for the era. I sat down and started typing.

The first thing I entered was my name. In the early days of computers, this was a thrill. It was almost like being on TV. Unfortunately, my name was not a valid command, which MS-DOS told be with a brusque error message:

BAD COMMAND OR FILENAME

I had used an Apple ][ computer at school, and thanks to my gifted and talented class, I knew a few BASIC commands. I tried typing a number of commands and lines of code, but every time I hit the Enter key, MS-DOS gave me the same response:

BAD COMMAND OR FILENAME

I knew there was a big difference between Apple and IBM computers, but I also knew that every computer of the era had the BASIC programming language. However, I did not realize that there was a distinction between BASIC and MS-DOS. They both had a black screen with green/orange/gray letters, and they both had cryptic commands and impenetrable error messages.

A year or two later, I got my own computer, an IBM-compatible computer known as the Tandy 1000HX. I quickly got adept at dealing with both GW-BASIC and MS-DOS. But even though I was pretty good at it, I was glad to move over to Windows 3.1 when it came out. Perhaps it’s because I’m a visually-oriented person, but I’ll take a graphical user interface over a command line any day. And while I have fond memories of my old computers, I can honestly say that I don’t miss MS-DOS.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer, photographer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at http://steve-lovelace.com.

You may also like...

16 Responses

  1. August 29, 2012

    […] But then I started using the system, and discovered it has the most unintuitive interface since MS-DOS. It’s clunky and impossible to navigate. Plus it makes it even easier to share and even […]

  2. December 31, 2012

    […] of it is thanks to a cartoon dog named Rover and a half-baked user interface called Microsoft Bob. MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows may have made Bill Gates a billionaire, but Microsoft Bob brought him […]

  3. January 14, 2013

    […] completely different platforms. The Windows code, used in Windows 95 and 98, was based on the old MS-DOS operating system, whereas the Windows NT system was built from the ground up with modern software […]

  4. September 20, 2013

    […] File Manager Windows 3.1 was an odd hybrid. On one hand, it looked like a somewhat modern operating system, with windows and icons and a mouse pointer. But in fact, the first three versions of Windows were just a facade for MS-DOS. […]

  5. February 12, 2014

    […] for me, I have an iPhone and a Windows PC. I like them both, though if I had to pick, I’d probably go with Apple. What about you? What […]

  6. March 10, 2014

    […] 13 years after the operating system first came out. To put that in perspective, it would be like MS-DOS 4.01 (released in 1988) still being supported when Windows XP was released in 2001. Windows XP is […]

  7. August 13, 2014

    […] bureaucracy. They used off-the-shelf parts and outsourced the operating system. The result was MS-DOS, a text based operating system that did very little. DOS could help you copy files and load a […]

  8. February 2, 2015

    […] around the Valley. One of the companies he solicited was Digital Research, the company behind MS-DOS precursor CP/M. When Digital Research founded Gary Kildall found out about the show, he […]

  9. June 15, 2015

    […] big downsides, which ended up killing them off. First off, these were text-based systems. As with MS-DOS, you had to memorize a system of arcane commands, which limited the market penetration to hardcore […]

  10. July 3, 2015

    […] wasn’t really an operating system. Windows 1.0 was really just a program that ran on top of MS-DOS. This was partially to maintain backward compatibility, but there was a more important reason. […]

  11. July 12, 2015

    […] Windows was meant to be an interim solution. It started out as a graphical interface that ran atop MS-DOS, with the understanding that both Windows and DOS would one day be replaced by a more advanced […]

  12. August 1, 2015

    […] reviews of video games dating from the 1970s to the present. Basinger focuses mostly on MS-DOS games, but he also plays more modern series as well, especially the many versions of The Sims. In […]

  13. August 15, 2015

    […] part of the original Macintosh team, where she designed the icons that set the Mac apart from its text-only competitors. This was easier said than done, […]

  14. August 2, 2016

    […] with my parents and my sister, but i was still the system’s primary user. I had a lot of experience with MS-DOS and GW-BASIC, so I took to the computer like a fish to water. And though I’ve had many other […]

  15. February 8, 2017

    […] of my favorite old video games was a demo that came with MS-DOS. I spent a lot of time knocking around in QBasic. I never became an astute programmer, but I did […]

  16. February 15, 2017

    […] features depending on the machine, they all functioned the same. You had a command line, much like MS-DOS, where any command would give an immediate answer. This could be useful. You could type […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *