Friday Essentials: MS DOS, Still Alive!

My first computer was an IBM XT. It’s OS was on a Floppy Disk. Yes, that’s correct. A Floppy disk of 8- inch in size. So, every time that I needed to load the computer, I had to insert the Floppy Disk in its slot and only then did the computer boot.

The computer’s OS was called MS DOS.  It was an acronym for Micro-Soft Disk Operating System and for 10 year old me, there was no greater joy when finally, the computer hummed into life. We even had multiple drives at our disposal. Drives were then written as DIR. There was a DIR for everything. Be it for games or for any other data that was stored on its negligible memory (128–640 KB RAM)

The multiple processes would feel so extra to the one touch generation. It is unimaginable for the Gen Y to operate a DOS without wanting to punch the screen.

What they do not realise is that, the high end technology that they so readily adapt to now, has its roots in the foundation laid out by MS DOS.

See Also: 10 Useful Windows Commands

MS DOS: Still Alive

There are a multiple number of operations that are still being used from the time computers were first made. While the RAM Storage has increased, input of data has changed and so has the multiple output methods. It shall be our ignorance if we deny, that the first computers, the Supercomputers have managed to achieve the impossible with limited operability. Case in point, NASA managed to send a man to the Moon and back with a computer which was the size of a small car. But, it had approximately 64Kbyte of memory and operated at 0.043MHz. Yes. KB, not MB, GB, or TB or GIGAWATTS!

ms dos still alive

There are many instances where we can glimpse the old DOS still being used in today’s technology. Let’s have a glimpse at a few of them.

1. Games:

The simple games that were available then, had 8- Bit, 16- Bit graphics. Even that seemed like the cutting edge of technology. Now, there are multiple GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces)

games in dos

There are still many games from that era which are fan favorites and are played to this day and age. Only difference, now they have better graphics and many different versions.

The process to load a game was not as simple as clicking a screen icon. One had to do the following:

c:\> cd games\chess\chess.exe

Only after this batch of command prompts could we actually play a game.

The nostalgia that it brings to mind often overrides one’s desire for flashy game levels with multiple graphics.

2. Embedded Systems:

An embedded system or industrial control system or an automated system has a comparatively shorter start-up, time when they are used to boot MS DOS as compared to the one which boots Windows. MS DOS is still in this day and age, eminently suited for embedded systems application because of it’s extremely small size, which fits in a single floppy disk. This leaves sufficient room for program and data files. MS DOS still remains, the first priority for its reliable operation and zero cost. Talks about practical.

embeded system ms dos

Its Presence in Today’s Day and Age:

A fact, that is not generally publicized, is that MS-DOS is still being used today by numerous businesses and individuals around the world.

A good analogy is the ancient programming language known as COBOL aka, Common Business-Oriented Language (it was introduced in 1960) It is still in widespread use and, amazingly, accounts for roughly half of all the computer code that are still in existence today. Both MS-DOS and COBOL have survived for so long because they are powerful, relatively simple to use and continue to get the job done with a minimum of maintenance.

The capabilities of MS-DOS have, in fact, continued to increase even after Microsoft Windows became widespread. This is a result of continuing advances in the hardware and the introduction of new or improved utilities and applications.

Next Read: Mobile Botnets: They’re Coming For You!

MS DOS will be around for many years into the future not only because of the continued existence of legacy applications but also because of the development of new applications. It is in the end, the ancestor that made the impossible, possible. Man on the moon people, man on the moon!

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