Monday, June 28, 2010

FreeDOS turns 16

The FreeDOS Project turns 16 years old today. Happy birthday!

You probably know the story already: in the 1980s and early 1990s, many people used DOS. I used DOS all the time - especially at university, mostly to write small programs to help me with my physics data analysis. MS-DOS was the operating system of the day, and I was a huge fan. Sure, Microsoft had already tried to introduce (with limited success) the new "Windows" operating system, but this was really just a shell that ran on top of MS-DOS. And Windows wasn't pretty; everything seemed more difficult under Windows.

So you can guess the reaction when Microsoft announced sometime in early 1994 (through tech magazine interviews) that DOS would soon go away, replaced entirely with a new version of Windows.

I'd also installed Linux by this time, and realized that if a small group of developers could replicate something as complicated as a Unix system, certainly we should be able to do the same with DOS? So I decided to create my own version of DOS, which I would make available to the public for free. We called it "PD-DOS" because much of our early work was released in the public domain.

PD-DOS was announced to the world on June 28, 1994. To cement my ideas, I created a PD-DOS Manifesto. By July 24, 1994, the name of the project had officially changed to "Free-DOS", though the name actually switched around July 16, 1994 (the revision date on the manifesto).

FreeDOS has accomplished a lot since then. We've had many releases of our official distribution, including "1.0" a few years ago, and others have made their own versions of DOS based on the FreeDOS kernel. PC manufacturers now include FreeDOS as an option on some of the systems they sell - including such big names as HP and Dell.

Here's looking to another year of FreeDOS!

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