Re: MSDOS limitations - WAS sed command

From: Bill Ferguson <>
Date: Fri, 15 May 2009 17:17:15 -0600
Message-ID: <>

Actually (I'm dating myself), MSDOS was basically a stolen re-write of CP/M. There was even a lawsuit brought against Microsoft by Digital Research, but for some reason Digital Research lost or ran out of money.

MD/DOS 1.0 had the exact same commands (and the commands functioned the exact same way) as the commands in CP/M, just rewritten to run on the 8080 processor instead of the Z-80 (8 bit) processor. My cousin (who bought one of the very first IBM PC's with PC/DOS (IBM's licensed version of MS/DOS) and I sat down and compared the full command list and the results with the CP/M I was running on my old Osborne 'portable' computer (5 1/4 inch, 60 character screen that you could scroll). We even went so far as to reverse engineer the code for couple of the commands as at the time we were both dabbling in Assembler for both processors, and the only difference was CP/M was in Assembler for the Z-80 and MS/DOS was in Assembler for the 8080, the actual steps to get from point A to point B were the same after allowing for the difference in 8-bit vs 16-bit code.

Regarding the spreadsheet wars, Lotus was the one who filed a lawsuit against Borland for Quatro using the 'slash command', which Lotus claimed was 'invented' by them. Well, VisiCalc for the CP/M world had the exact same command about 4 years before Lotus was even a company, though by the time of the lawsuit agaisnt Borland, VisiCalc was out of business.

Personally, I wish Oracle would have bought out Ashton-Tate and integrated the dBASE language into Oracle instead of PL/SQL. It was by far a much more straightforward procedural language and in my opinion could have easily been ported across. But, dBASE was basically dead after Borland bought it, almost as they bought it to intentionally screw it up enough to kill it.

I remember back in like '82 sitting in on a round-table conference where Phillipe Kahn (the owner of Borland) was asked a question about being able to make any money with Turbo Pascal, since it was selling for only $29.95. He laughed and said he was making a ton of money on Turbo Pascal and just wasn't as greedy as the other software companies. I think the conference was called the West Coast Computer Fair, and it was in the Moscone Center. I forget his name now, but the columnist from Byte Magazine was on the panel as well, and his big catch phrase, especially about software releases, was 'real soon now'. I think he was also the one who coined the term 'ghostware', since there were so many companies back then announcing all these new feature for their 'next release', but the next release was still a year or more away (since they were all writing in Assembler back then). But, once the software was finally released, it did fly even on those old processors. None of the code bloat and code ineffecencies so prevalent ever since the C compilers came out.

-- Bill Ferguson

On Fri, May 15, 2009 at 10:03 AM, Bellows, Bambi (Comsys)
<> wrote:

> As I understand it, the reason that MS-DOS has such a limited set of
> commands was that it never needed anything more.  The story goes that it was
> originally called QDOS, for “quick and dirty operating system”.  Bill Gates
> put much more into marketing, sales and lawyers than he ever did into the
> underlying operating system.  After he simultaneously fought both sides of
> the “look and feel” issue (again, as I understand it, Lotus v Excel and
> Windows v Mac) and won one and lost the other, he put all his resources into
> the GUI side of the house and never looked back.  Those poor jerks writing
> command-line batch files in MS-DOS have the slimmest most arcane set of
> tools around.  But, they always have, and it’s been 30 years, so…………..
> HTH,
> Bambi.
Received on Fri May 15 2009 - 18:17:15 CDT

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