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MS-DOS v6.22.

MS-DOS is a command line operating system developed by Microsoft and first published in 1981. It was based on QDOS, and initially designed to run on IBM PCs, but also ran on IBM clones. It was by-far most popular OS for IBM-compatible computers throughout its entire release history and saw continual improvements until it was superseded by Windows 95.

Gaming on MS-DOS was hit or miss. Since graphic and sound hardware was always well behind what was available on video game consoles of the day, action games like shooters and platformers were inferior on DOS. However, games which required a lot of storage space like large adventure and RPG games, as well as games that required a lot of math processing like simulators and 3D rendering, were superior on DOS.

MS-DOS can be emulated in most virtual machines, but to emulate various forms of hardware that were popular during the DOS era, you will need a program like DOSBox.


The first version of MS-DOS I remember using was 3.22 on my cousin's Tandy 1000 which I spent a lot of time on. My family's first computer came with MS-DOS 5.0, which we later upgraded to 6.22. I always gave more leeway to games made for MS-DOS over video game consoles. There was something about the fact that I could see the individual game files and root around in them that made them feel more "real" than games on cartridges where all the data was obscured.

I have owned computers which had MS-DOS versions 5, 6, and 6.22. I have also used MS-DOS 3.2 a little.


The following is software developed for MS-DOS that is important to me.


See all DOS Software.


See all DOS Games.

Programming Languages


This is hardware that is compatible with MS-DOS and important to me.



  • The environment of MS-DOS was pretty stable.
  • Each version included fairly large improvements, though many of them weren't always seen by the average user.
  • Most versions of the OS included a free (but crippled) version of a BASIC programming language, like GW-BASIC and QBASIC.
  • The file system is case-insensitive.


  • Very little in the way of interface was ever added to the OS. You mostly look at a black and gray screen that can't be easily customized. Version 4 added a mouse-driven DOS Shell, and version 5 included a pretty nice editor, but much more could have been done.
  • The OS was designed for a single user running a single task. So, it is very difficult to have it run for multiple users or multiple tasks. At best, you can invoke a terminate and stay resident (TSR) program.
  • Altering OS configurations (Config.sys) and default starting procedures (AutoExec.bat) is very cryptic, but frequently necessary. And any changes require a reboot to implement.
  • Out of the box, MS-DOS only supports a couple dozen commands, so it can't do very much. Third-party software is a must if you want to do anything interesting.
  • By giving programmers direct access to hardware, it is possible for poorly written software to crash the OS.
  • The documentation that comes with DOS (at least with every version I had) isn't very helpful.
  • Though I like the fact that the file system is case-insensitive, it does not preserve case, so all files are converted to upper case.


  • Hardware limitations lasted too long and made it very difficult to make complicated hardware and software. Half-assed attempts were made to get beyond the 640K memory barrier with expanded and extended memory, but it was always difficult to use. Hard drive limitations always lagged behind, and DOS remained 16-bit until the release of Windows 95.
  • MS-DOS has several undocumented APIs specifically added to make it difficult for competitors to run software originally written for MS-DOS. This resulted in a pretty big anti-trust lawsuit that Microsoft had to settle.






The 8-Bit Guy, best laptop for DOS gaming.


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