Jump to content

Photo

Was MS-DOS (and similar) an entry barrier to computing?


45 replies to this topic

#1 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Missile Commander

  • 22,048 posts

Posted Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:02 PM

Was MS-DOS and other seemingly cryptic command-line OSes a filter that kept stupid people away from computers?

 

On one hand, yes. You had to be smart and with it in order to grasp the fundamentals and navigate your way around DOS and most DOS applications. There was no hand-holding, baby-like, touch-based "app" interfaces like every smartphone has today.

 

On the otherhand, no. While command-line interfaces filtered out the general populace in favor of nerds and technophiles with some semblance of high-level thinking, the people that did spend countless hours typing in commands and doing batch files had a whole host of mental neuroses all their own. Enough of these mental problems added up to make them look stupid or even or just downright anti-social. Like who would wanna date some weirdo that played around with his computer all day?



#2 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

Flojomojo

    You can't handle the truth. No truth-handler, you.

  • 16,149 posts
  • I deride your truth-handling abilities.

Posted Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:20 PM

No. People with taste and higher things on their minds didn't have to crap up their beautiful brains with nasty command line garbage. Long live the WIMP (windows, icons, mouse, pointer) interface.

#3 mr_me OFFLINE  

mr_me

    River Patroller

  • 4,065 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:50 PM

Ms-dos kept smart people from being more productive by limiting them to one application program at a time. It was perfect for stupid people.

#4 pacman000 OFFLINE  

pacman000

    Stargunner

  • 1,579 posts

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:36 AM

My grandmother hated using the mouse; she always learned the keyboard shortcuts.

#5 Osgeld OFFLINE  

Osgeld

    Quadrunner

  • 5,941 posts
  • Location:Nashville, TN

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:41 AM

I never even thought about dos until it was already on its way out, most machines didnt have hard disks, you just put in a floppy and ran what you wanted, didnt really matter about the OS, by the time everyone had hard disks well everyone had a GUI option as well so I could play with dos all day long and my mom could come in and run the print shop with a couple clicks 



#6 thetick1 OFFLINE  

thetick1

    Dragonstomper

  • 820 posts
  • Location:NYC Metro

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:35 AM

Ms-dos kept smart people from being more productive by limiting them to one application program at a time. It was perfect for stupid people.

 

Oh please.  The hardware could not do real multitasking at the time.  DOS with a single task was what was practical for a home user.  People forget multitasking machines of early 80's up until early 90's cost hundreds of thousands of dollars!!!


Edited by thetick1, Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:38 AM.


#7 pacman000 OFFLINE  

pacman000

    Stargunner

  • 1,579 posts

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:56 PM

Didn't the Amiga have some sort of multitasking/taskswitching?

#8 JBerel OFFLINE  

JBerel

    Stargunner

  • 1,576 posts

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:00 PM

I can't speak for others, but I never saw DOS as being a barrier to using early computers. Anything worthwhile should have had a little bit of challenge, or why do it? The real barrier back then was price. If somebody coughed up enough for pre-windows machines, you can bet they had enough commitment to figure out how to use it. As soon as compuserve chat became a thing over 300 baud, you realized right quick that there were plenty of computer literate idiots.

#9 MrMaddog OFFLINE  

MrMaddog

    Dragonstomper

  • 922 posts
  • Not a 'gamer' but a video game player...
  • Location:Parts Unknown

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:04 PM

 

Oh please.  The hardware could not do real multitasking at the time.  DOS with a single task was what was practical for a home user.  People forget multitasking machines of early 80's up until early 90's cost hundreds of thousands of dollars!!!

 

You must not have heard about the 386 chips.  They can run 32-bit multitasking OS's (OS/2, UNIX and Windows NT) in protected mode but because people have to run DOS based programs, they're stuck running old 16-bit MS-DOS in real mode which was a waste...except for increase speed but that's it.



#10 mr_me OFFLINE  

mr_me

    River Patroller

  • 4,065 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:13 PM

You guys haven't heard of Desqview. It could multitask, cut and paste, and macro native ms-dos programs. Just because windows was poorly written, inefficient software doesn't mean the hardware couldn't do it. Actually OS/2 could also run ms-dos programs well but it had more ram and disk requirements, and was more expensive.

Edited by mr_me, Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:19 PM.


#11 ChildOfCv OFFLINE  

ChildOfCv

    Moonsweeper

  • 324 posts

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:46 PM

 

Oh please.  The hardware could not do real multitasking at the time.  DOS with a single task was what was practical for a home user.  People forget multitasking machines of early 80's up until early 90's cost hundreds of thousands of dollars!!!

 

That's not really true.  The 8088 had anything needed to make a system multitasking-capable:  Software interrupts, and a timer.  The software interrupts were (over)used to provide OS-level calls, and could easily have doubled as task switchers, while the timer allowed for a time-slicing mechanism.  The only thing lacking was security rings, but it seems that the first versions of UNIX didn't run on hardware that supported security rings either.  The modern embedded multitasking RTOS called ThreadX runs everything in ring 0 on ARM processors.  While that's not a good idea for multi-user OS's, it still allows multi-tasking.

 

The biggest issue with early PCs is that they had inadequate OS services, so too many programs would directly program the hardware to accomplish their tasks.  Those programs tended not to play well with multitasking front-ends.

 

However, as mentioned above, DESQView was a multitasking front-end that ran well-behaved programs on 8088 processors.



#12 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Missile Commander

  • Topic Starter
  • 22,048 posts

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:51 PM

I fuck'n grew up with DOS. Using it was one thing. Understanding the fine points and inner-workings was another. How much I actually understood was based on the Sun & Moon positions.

 

The Amiga was little more than a plastic toy.


Edited by Keatah, Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:52 PM.


#13 thetick1 OFFLINE  

thetick1

    Dragonstomper

  • 820 posts
  • Location:NYC Metro

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:25 PM

 

That's not really true.  The 8088 had anything needed to make a system multitasking-capable:  Software interrupts, and a timer.  The software interrupts were (over)used to provide OS-level calls, and could easily have doubled as task switchers, while the timer allowed for a time-slicing mechanism.  The only thing lacking was security rings, but it seems that the first versions of UNIX didn't run on hardware that supported security rings either.  The modern embedded multitasking RTOS called ThreadX runs everything in ring 0 on ARM processors.  While that's not a good idea for multi-user OS's, it still allows multi-tasking.

 

The biggest issue with early PCs is that they had inadequate OS services, so too many programs would directly program the hardware to accomplish their tasks.  Those programs tended not to play well with multitasking front-ends.

 

However, as mentioned above, DESQView was a multitasking front-end that ran well-behaved programs on 8088 processors.

By your definition a 6502 that could JMP to new address and support event driven interrupts is multitasking.   Sorry the 8088 was not able to multitask nor the 286.  

 

Yes I have used Desqview/X ... the X version was pretty good but you need a massive expense hardware.  But the point of the discussion is home users.  Early OS/2 , VM/386 and Desqview/X all could multitask to some degree but who the hell the home user could afford any of this as needed maxed out processor and memory specs to do any type of reasonable multitasking.  In 1992 a 8088 Dell with 640K and CGA was $1199.  A 20 mhz new 386 range was $4000-$8000!!! Who the hell could afford that in 1992? 

 

References from Byte Magazine Nov 1988 :

The Dell Computer Store -- Also note the i386 Sun Workstation ($10K  and could ONLY run 3 DOS windows at AT performance), OS/2 (at this time only did one DOS session!) VM/386, and Concurrent DOS articles in this issue.

 

It's very clear you are confusing mid late 90's technology in your discussion.  

 

Though the only true multitasking system outside of Unix workstation was the Archimedes / RiscPC which was ARM based (yes same descended ARM we have today).

 

My point is in early 90's and early 80's for home users only Unix workstation could do modern multitasking ie more than 3 or more instances before performance is completely impractical and really not desirable beyond two.


Edited by thetick1, Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:56 PM.


#14 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Missile Commander

  • Topic Starter
  • 22,048 posts

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:30 PM

I only spent ~2000 on my 486 in 1993..



#15 nanochess OFFLINE  

nanochess

    Processorus Polyglotus

  • 5,865 posts
  • Coding something good
  • Location:Mexico City

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:31 PM

Never was a problem for me. Once I understood DIR I was up and running.

DIR, see something interesting, enter the name and see it running.

Then pound all the keys to discover how to play the game.

Next step, COPY to make games disks, REN to rename games.

Next step, GWBASIC and be surprised "Holy shit! These games come with a listing!"

One step at a time. Now we look like way too smarter.

In these days kids doesn't elaborate further than clicking each point of screen.

#16 thetick1 OFFLINE  

thetick1

    Dragonstomper

  • 820 posts
  • Location:NYC Metro

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:54 PM

I only spent ~2000 on my 486 in 1993..

 

In '93 it changed a bit the pricing of 386/486 did fall due to the Pentium release.  Still $2K for computer is just the upper classes.

 

Your $2K 486 was about right for '93

 

https://archive.org/...umPCs/page/n265


Edited by thetick1, Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:08 PM.


#17 ChildOfCv OFFLINE  

ChildOfCv

    Moonsweeper

  • 324 posts

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:07 PM

By your definition a 6502 that could JMP to new address and support event driven interrupts is multitasking.   Sorry the 8088 was not able to multitask nor the 286.  

 

It's very clear you are confusing mid late 90's technology in your discussion.  

 

My point is in late 90's and early 80's for home users only Unix workstation could do modern multitasking.

 

Yes, the ability to weave between tasks is the very definition of multitasking.  So yes, a 6502 can do it too, as long as there is an OS that supports it.

 

You seem to be conflating software and hardware too.  I only said that the hardware was adequate, to dispute your claim that it wasn't.  The claim about good software being priced out of reach does not dispute that, but rather supports my claim that it's the inadequate software support that prevented multitasking.  Also, DESQView had a text-only version for the 8088, so no expensive hardware was needed for that either.

 

BYTE Magazine noted in the 80's that an 8088 ran UNIX better than a PDP-11.  And UNIX is a multitasking operating system.

 

Also, people ran multi-line BBSs on 8088's, complete with "door games" which requires multitasking to service multiple lines at once.



#18 mr_me OFFLINE  

mr_me

    River Patroller

  • 4,065 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:13 PM

By your definition a 6502 that could JMP to new address and support event driven interrupts is multitasking.   Sorry the 8088 was not able to multitask nor the 286.  
 
Yes I have used Desqview/X ... the X version was pretty good but you need a massive expense hardware.  But the point of the discussion is home users.  Early OS/2 , VM/386 and Desqview/X all could multitask to some degree but who the hell the home user could afford any of this as needed maxed out processor and memory specs to do any type of reasonable multitasking.  In 1992 a 8088 Dell with 640K and CGA was $1199.  A 20 mhz new 386 range was $4000-$8000!!! Who the hell could afford that in 1992? 
 
References from Byte Magazine Nov 1988 :
The Dell Computer Store -- Also note the i386 Sun Workstation ($10K  and could ONLY run 3 DOS windows at AT performance), OS/2 (at this time only did one DOS session!) VM/386, and Concurrent DOS articles in this issue.
 
It's very clear you are confusing mid late 90's technology in your discussion.  
 
Though the only true multitasking system outside of Unix workstation was the Archimedes / RiscPC which was ARM based (yes same descended ARM we have today).
 
My point is in early 90's and early 80's for home users only Unix workstation could do modern multitasking ie more than 3 or more instances before performance is completely impractical and really not desirable beyond two.

In 1989 a 386sx-16 was about the same price as a 286. Desqview386 (not DesqviewX) was also affordable and didn't need much disk space or ram; 2MB ram was enough. I bought all of this stuff with my student loan in 1989.

#19 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

Flojomojo

    You can't handle the truth. No truth-handler, you.

  • 16,149 posts
  • I deride your truth-handling abilities.

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:59 PM

I only spent ~2000 on my 486 in 1993..


Which adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to "only" $3519.00 in 2019.

#20 DragonGrafx-16 OFFLINE  

DragonGrafx-16

    Moonsweeper

  • 474 posts

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:13 PM

MS-DOS 6.22 is my favorite OS...



#21 zzip OFFLINE  

zzip

    River Patroller

  • 2,654 posts

Posted Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:16 AM

Was MS-DOS and other seemingly cryptic command-line OSes a filter that kept stupid people away from computers?

 

On one hand, yes. You had to be smart and with it in order to grasp the fundamentals and navigate your way around DOS and most DOS applications. There was no hand-holding, baby-like, touch-based "app" interfaces like every smartphone has today.

 

On the otherhand, no. While command-line interfaces filtered out the general populace in favor of nerds and technophiles with some semblance of high-level thinking, the people that did spend countless hours typing in commands and doing batch files had a whole host of mental neuroses all their own. Enough of these mental problems added up to make them look stupid or even or just downright anti-social. Like who would wanna date some weirdo that played around with his computer all day?

 

No..   plenty of non-technical people used DOS.   If it was so archaic that it scared people away, it never would have become the dominant platform at a time that everyone else had gone full GUI.



#22 zzip OFFLINE  

zzip

    River Patroller

  • 2,654 posts

Posted Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:19 AM

Ms-dos kept smart people from being more productive by limiting them to one application program at a time. It was perfect for stupid people.

 

As did every home computer OS of its era.    Even the multitasking Amiga was too limited by memory and use of floppy drives only (no HD) to really do practical multitasking when it first came out.


Edited by zzip, Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:24 AM.


#23 mr_me OFFLINE  

mr_me

    River Patroller

  • 4,065 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:42 AM

Okay, but ms-dos was the most popular operating system by far for most of the 1990s. It would only take 2MB ram to turn it into a practical multitaskng system.

#24 zzip OFFLINE  

zzip

    River Patroller

  • 2,654 posts

Posted Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:28 AM

Okay, but ms-dos was the most popular operating system by far for most of the 1990s. It would only take 2MB ram to turn it into a practical multitaskng system.

 

But for most of the 80s when DOS came out, 2mb RAM was an unheard-of luxury



#25 mr_me OFFLINE  

mr_me

    River Patroller

  • 4,065 posts
  • Location:Ontario

Posted Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:34 AM

Very few people, office or home, had an ibm pc compatible for most of the 1980s. It started to take off around 1987/88 when memory prices were much more reasonable. Even in the 1990s, I saw people with two computers on their desks so they could be more productive. Price was not the issue. People have always been deterred from going with third party solutions or any solution whose future is unknown.




0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users