Windows is 30, so we salute its quick and dirty roots

C:\happy-birthday.exe! Windows is 30, so meet MS-DOS, the quick and dirty cornerstone of Microsoft's software empire.

C:\happy-birthday.exe! Windows is 30 , but it wasn't always the world-conquering computing collossus of today -- so let's boot into the command line for a celebration of the OS with the mostest: MS-DOS, the quick and dirty cornerstone of Microsoft's software empire.

Everybody knows MS-DOS stands for Microsoft Disk Operating System, but that's actually a neat bit of corporate whitewashing from Bill Gates and co -- because the name originally stood for Quick and Dirty Operating System.

Temporary fix 

Yes, the foundation of the computing empire that would make Bill Gates the richest man in the world was a temporary fix. On 27 July 1981, Microsoft bought what was to become MS-DOS from Seattle Computer Products, which had developed the system under the name QDOS.

The quick and dirty QDOS was a basic OS created by SCP's Tim Paterson as a stopgap for its new processor in 1980, when the intended software -- Digital Research's CP/M-86 operating system -- wasn't ready.

Microsoft then bought the OS for $75,000. But what Microsoft didn't tell SCP was that it planned to sell the software on to IBM -- in place of the same Digital Research OS that had inspired the creation of QDOS in the first place.

Everyone who's in knows... 

Tim Paterson joined Microsoft in time for the first release of the now-renamed MS-DOS in 1982. Microsoft went on to conquer the world of personal computing and finally took complete ownership of the software in 1986 in a $925,000 legal settlement with the original boss of SCP.

MS-DOS provided the foundation for Windows, Microsoft's all-conquering operating system. And everyone who's in knows / MS-DOS is the best to run with Windows...

What are your favourite MS-DOS memories? Tell us in the comments section or on our Facebook page, or just check out the worst Microsoft videos of all time . MS-DOS is, coincidentally, the exact same age as CNET UK chief sub-editor Nick, but he goes blue and dies far less often.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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