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.

Cryptic Errors

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:


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:


IBM vs Apple

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.


Did you ever use MS-DOS? What was your experience with typing in commands? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at

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