Feeds

Microsoft's MS-DOS is 30 today

Kudos to QDOS

Security for virtualized datacentres

'Hi, it's Microsoft. Say, can we license your OS?'

It's at this point that Microsoft re-enters the picture, acquiring from SCP a licence to market and sell 86-DOS, paying $25,000 for the privilege. Microsoft was now working with IBM in place of DR - the two had been partners since November 1980 - to supply the operating system for the hardware giant's first personal computer, but it kept IBM's identity hidden from SCP and Paterson until it acquired the OS in its entirety the following year.

"We all had our suspicions that it was IBM that Microsoft was dealing with," Paterson would later say, "but we didn't know for sure."

MS-DOS Advert

Microsoft would later advertise MS-DOS' claimed superiority to CP/M-86

Microsoft had been in contact with SCP ever since the latter asked to use its Basic, so it would have been aware of SCP's work on QDOS, the operating system's design goals and its convenient compatibility with CP/M-86. Microsoft would have seen how closely QDOS matched the product it had been commissioned to supply to IBM, and its ties with SCP would have helped it gain that initial re-distribution licence.

You can read a copy of the 86-DOS Programmer's Manual (PDF) here.

By July 1981, Microsoft had sufficient understanding of IBM's plans - and the vision to conceive of what the personal computer market might become - to consider not merely licensing 86-DOS but buying it outright from SCP, for a further $50,000 - $75,000 in total, $180,000 (£112,000) in today's money. SCP was allowed to continue to offer the OS with its own hardware. Paterson had already quit SCP, in April 1981, to join Microsoft the following month.

Seattle Computer Products DOS diskettes

Seattle Computer Products' DOS
Source: Ty's Computer Interest Website

"So on 27 July, 1981, the operating system became Microsoft's property," Paterson said in the 1983 Softtalk interview. "According to the deal, Seattle Computer can still see the source code, but is otherwise just another licensee. I think both companies were real happy. The deal was closed just a few weeks before the PC was announced. Microsoft was quite confident."

In August 1981, Big Blue introduced what would eventually become known as the IBM PC, though it was originally the 5150. It was based on the Intel 8088 CPU, a lesser - but cheaper - version than the 8086 that used an 8-bit external bus rather than the 16-bit bus found on the 8086.

Paterson came with his operating system, and stayed with Microsoft for a year while 86-DOS was honed into MS-DOS 1.0, released as a standalone product early in 1982. He left in March 1982, after the completion of MS-DOS 1.25, but would later return (twice) to Microsoft, where he would go on to work on Visual Basic. He eventually formed his own hardware company, Paterson Technology, though his blog now lists his status as retired.

MS-DOS 3.2 box

Microsoft boxes up MS-DOS 3.2
Source: Hugepedia

Now 55, Paterson continues to blog about the QDOS' development, emphasising the reasons for its CP/M friendliness yet stressing its under-the-hood differences.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Next page: MS-DOS triumphant

More from The Register

next story
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport
Breaches screening rules cos Apple SCREEN ROOLZ, ok?
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
The British Museum plonks digital bricks on world of Minecraft
Institution confirms it's cool with joining the blocky universe
Turn OFF your phone or WE'LL ALL DI... live? Europe OKs mobes, tabs non-stop on flights
Airlines given green light to allow gate-to-gate jibber-jabber
Be your own Big Brother: Keeping an eye on Mum and Dad
All watched over by machines of loving grace
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.