Marc Rochkind rochkind at basepath.com
Fri Jul 1 23:43:08 AEST 2016

Bill: "MS-DOS was a runtime system, not an operating system"

Well said... that's completely true.

Those original floppies were I believe 160K. If you paid extra, the box
would hold two drives. Later, IBM introduced double-sided drives, at 320K

The XT model, with a built-in hard drive (10MB as I recall) came out
one-and-a-half years after the original, in 1983. With it came MS-DOS 2.0,
with a hierarchical file system.

Since the forward slash was used for command-line options, paths used a
backwards slash.


On Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 6:47 AM, William Cheswick <ches at cheswick.com> wrote:

> >>​...​why didn't they have a more capable kernel than MS-DOS?
> ​>I don't think they cared. or felt it was needed at the time (I disagreed
> then and still do).
> MS-DOS was a better choice at the time than Unix. It had to fit on
> floppies, and was very simple.
> “Unix is a system administrations nightmare” — dmr
> Actually, MS-DOS was a runtime system, not an operating system, despite
> the last two letters of its name.
> This is a term of art lost to antiquity.
> Run time systems offered a minimum of features: a loader, a file system, a
> crappy, built-in shell,
> I/O for keyboards, tape, screens, crude memory management, etc. No
> multiuser, no network stacks, no separate processes (mostly). DEC had
> several (RT11, RSTS, RSX) and the line is perhaps a little fuzzy: they were
> getting operating-ish.
> It all had to fit on a floppy (do I remember correctly that the original
> floppyies, SSSD, were 90KB?), run
> flight simulator and some business apps.  MSDOS lasted a decade, and
> served the PC world well, for all its
> crapiness.  Win 3.1 was an attempt at an OS, and Win 95 an actual one,
> with a network stack and everything.
> >I agree with 90% of what he says, but not about Algol 68.  He obviously
> >has a strong preference for small languages: it would be interesting
> >to see his uncensored opinions of C++, the Godzilla of our day as Ada
> I’d be astonished if he had anything good at all to say about C++.
> He’s still around…you could ask him...
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