Seventeen years ago today

I was finishing up on the MS-DOS 4.1 project and started working in the networking group, working on MS-NET 1.10, which was a precursor to the first Lan Manager product.

I was working for Barry Shaw, with two other developers, who were working as vendors from Apricot in the UK.  Humorously enough, they both ended up working at Microsoft, one just recently retired, the other is still working here :).  Barry retired long ago.

DOS Lan Manager was another fascinating project.  We basically took the Lan Manager protocols (later known as CIFS), which were designed for OS/2 and got them working on MS-DOS.  We also added support for the messenger service - my very first T&SR application - it would pop up a message on top of the console when someone did you a "Net Send".

Going back a little earlier in the year (in January), Valorie and I got married.  And within 36 hours of returning to Microsoft from my honeymoon, I was on a plane to England to deal with a crisis in MS-DOS 4.1.  I still kick myself for not insisting that Valorie be allowed to accompany me on the trip, it would have been cool to get a trip to England out of it.


Comments (13)

  1. Anonymous says:

    What was DOS 4.1? (What did it add to 4.0?)

    The only thing I really remember about DOS 4.x was the "graphical" shell that was introduced as well as official support for "big" disks.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Different DOS 4.x – you’re thinking about PC-DOS 4.x, not MS-DOS 4.x.

    MS-DOS 4.1 was a custom version of MS-DOS that Microsoft did for ICL in the UK. It ran on a 286 machine, with support for a custom expanded-memory architecture. It was the first "compatibility box", it ran new applications using the custom banked memory, and old applications ran in the normal memory space.

    Getting Windows and other DOS applications working on it was "exciting" ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Anonymous says:

    I even used Dos 4 for a week or so. It had bad press. But 5 was a good version.

    I bought a second hand computer with Dos 4, the stoned virus, and a marginal sector (it would hold formatting for a few hours only) in the MBR or PBR. On the same day the UK PCMag with cover disk incl a stoned detector arrived.

    I sent it back to the shop and built my current computer, which has been upgraded so many times since that all components, incl case have been upgraded at least 3 times (that’s thge floppy with 3 everything else is higher).

    This was all necessary as A drive had failed on my laptop, a dual floppy laptop, so had to make B into A. I learnt that one can disassemble a laptop easy enough but that it is impossible to fit the components back into the case. I therefore had a case with wires coming out to the floppy and built in modem which now had to live outside the case.

    Laptops are like the Tardis. Small on the outside but enourmous on the inside.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The DOS 4 you’re referring to is PC-DOS. Unless you were using an ICL DRS PWS computer, you weren’t using MS-DOS 4.1. Similarly, unless you were using a Goupil computer, you weren’t using MS-DOS 4.0.

    I understand the pain you went through with PC-DOS 4.0, I really do. And some time, if you’re ever in Redmond, I might tell my part of that particular story.

    DOS 5 was actually pretty cool, IMHO ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Anonymous says:

    I did use MS-Dos 3.3 for the Apriciot. A non IBM compatable 8086. All my home tools like a full screen editor, full screen file manager wouldn’t work (they moved the video memory). Just edlin and and an integrated office suit of some type (from UK).

    This is why I’m a compatability nazi. If I have a program I expect it to run whereever and whenwhever. I still play dos (LHX attack chopper) and 3.1 (two strategy) games. I use a Win 3.1 database. I can take a document, picture, music, or tool anywhere and do what I need at the moment which was not true with the apriciot.

    And it’s why I wish linux ill. They threaten broad compatability and a return to apriciot days.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There was also Word 2.0 for the Apricot. I know, Valorie was the tester for it ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Anonymous says:

    TSR’s, boy, I’ve not written one of those for quite some time, I was presenting Windows CE 5.0 at the Embedded Software Developers Conference in San Jose a couple of weeks back, one of the attendees asked what the difference was between Windows CE 5.0 and MS-DOS with TSR’s !! – floored me that someone was still locked in MS-DOS & TSR’s to write their code (although, I loved writing code for CP/M-80 and MS-DOS, mostly assembler), those were the days…

    Comparing writing code back then to writing managed code on Windows CE is like comparing my first coding experience on a mainframe using a teletype and 8-hole paper tape and coding for MS-DOS – Cut and Paste really was cutting the tape and pasting a new segment in… developers today don’t know how easy they have it ! :O)


  8. Anonymous says:

    Mike, we’re still writing new DOS-based applications for Symbol’s Series 3000 handheld computers today. This often involves using OEM-supplied TSRs. Economics has kicked in though – a ruggedised Pocket PC-based terminal with built-in barcode scanning equipment costs about 75% of the list price of the equivalent DOS-based terminals. Most new deployments are Pocket PC-based.

    My family’s first PC was an ICL DRS 286 because my dad worked for ICL (actually, he still does, except it’s now ‘Fujitsu Services’). However, this DRS ran MS-DOS 3.3 for compatibility. I remember the sigh of relief when we upgraded to DOS 5.0 and repartitioned that 100MB drive into a single partition…

  9. Anonymous says:

    "you’re thinking about PC-DOS 4.x, not MS-DOS 4.x. "

    Hmmmm… interesting. I remember hearing about both, but I never fully understood the distinction. My impression had always been that PC-DOS was somehow the "official IBM" version of MS-DOS with some special features.

    What I do remember is that it seemed like every computer hardware OEM had its own semi-custom DOS version, including custom printed DOS documentation. Compaq even had some nice manuals bound in faux-suede for DOS 2.x, IIRC.

    "DOS 5 was actually pretty cool, IMHO ๐Ÿ™‚ "

    DOS 5 _was_ nice. Until Windows 2000, the versions of Windows I had the least problems with were the Windows 3.1 series running on contemporary MS-DOS’s. It always seemed fairly easy to understand and control what it was doing. (Plus, on an 8MB 486/33 with a 8514/a clone, it was very speedy.)

    "David Candy — And it’s why I wish linux ill. They threaten broad compatability and a return to apriciot days. "

    I disagree with this statement on several levels, but I’ll leave it at that.

    "Mike, we’re still writing new DOS-based applications for Symbol’s Series 3000 handheld computers today."

    A couple years ago, I worked for a company doing embedded work with Borland C++ 4.52. There was no DOS, but the build process was quite similar. (Unfortunately, bcc and Windows NT didn’t fully cooperate all the time: sometimes the system forgot to end the processes spawned by the makefile and return to cmd.exe.) Anyway, I’m sure that this is still their tool chain of choice.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Seventeen years ago today ?

    That was exactly 8 years before the launch of Windows 95 ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Anonymous says:

    mschaef, you should look at: for MS-DOS info.

    And at:

    for info on the difference between MS-DOS and PC-DOS.

    Simple version: Back in those days, IBM drove the development process – they decided the feature set roughly. For instance, they told Microsoft to add support for hard disks for DOS 2.0 (which shipped with the PC/XT, whose major new feature was a hard disk). The DOS guys decided to turn that request into a feature that included Unix style file I/O APIs and a hierarchical filesystem. Microsoft then took the parts of PC-DOS that they owned (MSDOS.SYS, IO.SYS, COMMAND.COM, several of the utilities) and licensed them to OEMs. The OEMs had to fill in the blanks with their own version of the utilities that IBM owned. After the joint development agreement, Microsoft gained the rights to license all the IBM code to OEMs so MS-DOS 3.3 and beyond were essentially identical to PC-DOS 3.3.

  12. Anonymous says:

    "mschaef, you should look at: for MS-DOS info. "

    Most interesting, that bit about MS-DOS 4.0. It explains a lot of the rumors about DOS 4.0 and ADOS from the pre-OS/2 days. I had always attributed those to OS/2, rather than an actual Advanced DOS.

Skip to main content