Sunday, June 28, 2009

FreeDOS turns 15 years old

Man, it's been a long ride, but a great one. FreeDOS turns 15 years old today! A little bit of history:

"PD-DOS" was announced to the world on June 28, 1994. To cement my ideas, I created a PD-DOS Manifesto, which you can read elsewhere on the web site. The idea of a "free DOS" immediately became popular. Within a few weeks, several coders contacted me, wanting to take on this or that part of the new DOS.

Weeks after that, the number had doubled. I was contacted by Pat Villani, who had already written a functional DOS kernel called DOS/NT, and who was willing to release it under the GNU GPL for us to use! Tim Norman also started work on his version of command.com, which is the heart of the DOS command line interface. I think the fact that, early on, we had access to a working DOS kernel and command.com really helped get the project in motion.

By July 24, 1994, the name of the project had officially changed to "Free-DOS", to reflect the fact that we were Free Software, not really "public domain." Later, we dropped the dash entirely, and became "FreeDOS".

DOS will be around for quite some time yet. DOS remains a great environment to work in if you are building an embedded system, for example. The operating system is light, so it will run well in a device that doesn't have a lot of memory. I like to use FreeDOS to run the old classic DOS games that I loved.

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