Skip to content
Step by Step Internet 🌐 Guides for learning to surf the Net

MS-DOS: What is it, what is it for and what is the history of this OS?

MS-DOS: What is it

MS-DOS also known as the operating system developed by the Microsoft company, which controls a lot of situations such as the assignments of resources to computers, such as the hard disk, memory until the administration of all input and output devices such as the monitor, bugles, printers, among many other elements.

All this is handled through a series of commands and primary instructions that are taken by the computer system and that allows for a communication between the user and the team >. In addition, all this has been intended for computers with x86 architecture , which became one of the most popular operating systems.

According to all this, and the importance of MS-DOS today, we are going to explain a little more about what it is about, its history and its main function.

What is the MS-DOS operating system and what is it for ?

¿Qué es el sistema operativo MS-DOS y para qué sirve?

MS-DOS achieved its greatest popularity between the 80s and 90s where it was preinstalled on most computers. It is a basic software that allows and facilitates user interaction with the computer . In order to carry out this program, it was necessary for the person to enter some commands manually via the keyboard , for this they had to know each of these commands and their functions .

However, over time this operating system was being replaced by the new versions that were released as Windows. Weigh to this, MS-DOS is still used by many experts to be able to manipulate disk information and perform functions such as formatting and installation of softwares

Another function of this operating system is to be able to coordinate the information on the computer so that it can function correctly. In the same way, it works with two series of commands , as are internal and external .

Internal commands take care of what is the system startup on the PC , while external commands are stored in temporary files of the transitional type . They had to be at hand to request the desired commands.

Some of the commands we find in this operating system are the following:

  • CD ..: Change to the top directory.
  • CD: Change to the bottom directory.
  • CD /: Change directly to the root directory.
  • COPY: Copy the files.
  • COPY WITH: Copy the typed text to a file until you press “Ctrl-Z”.
  • DATE: Change the system date or only view it.
  • DEL: It is used to delete a file, as long as it is not hidden in the file.
  • ECHO: It shows a text specified on the screen .
  • RD or RMDIR: Delete a directory that is completely empty.
  • DIR: Show a list of all files and directories in the disk directory.
  • EXIT: Exit one of the sessions.
  • TIME: View or change the clock time.
  • VIEW: Show the operating system version.
  • TYPE: Show the contents of the file.
  • VOL: It serves to see the label of the hard disk and its volume if it has.

MS-DOS levels What can be done in each ?

Niveles del MS-DOS ¿Qué se puede hacer en cada uno?

This system has a large number of functions and tools that allow you to perform a large number of activities on the computer , this being one of the main reasons why it became one of the most popular OS of the 80s and 90s.

According to all this, work with two types of levels, which we show you below:

First level

This first level is mainly dedicated to what is hardware management in the MS-DOS , where CPU coordination operates. All this is known as the brain of the computer . Therefore, at this level the OS takes all the characters that are written with the keyboard and then encode it and the CPU is able to read and understand it.

Once the CPU has managed to capture all the information that has been written , the information is reflected in the computer screen so that it is now the user who can understand it .

It can be said that the OS acts as an intermediary where it encodes each of the signals that are transmitted through the keyboard, each of these characters are converted into control codes that the programs can use . He is also responsible for carrying out some activities related to the operation and use of the programs, either for disk formatting or for offering information about the files stored in the internal disk memory .

Second level

The second level is that the MS-DOS has a utilitarian function, which is carried out by executing the commands >, this allows this level to interact with the computer directly. Typically, these commands perform functions such as to change the name of a disk, change the clock time, copy the files from one place to another , among many more functions.

These commands are usually treated as they are a program, taking into account that these are more limited . Where they only carry out a specific task and are mainly used for general computer maintenance .

History and impact of MS-DOS How important was it for the computing?

All this began in 1981, where for the first time the MS-DOS appeared, an interface that was created and developed for IDM PC personal computers , a from a previous version which was known as 86-DOS or QDOS , belonging to Seattle Computer Products.

The year after its release appeared what was version 1.0 , which had its pre-installed version PC-DOS . It began to become very popular where it got massive use until the middle of the 1990s , where it was replaced by the Windows operating system .

Although Windows was based on DOS, it offered users an improved and more friendly graphical interface , thus attracting the attention of most users. Many of its structures are still preserved in the basic processes of some of Microsoft Windows systems .

MS-DOS Features What made it different from the rest?

This OS had a lot of important features that made it stand out from the competition. All this led him at the time to become one of the best computer systems.

That is why here we present the most important features of MS-DOS:

System type

One of the most outstanding features is the type of operating system that it has, which is a single user , that is, it can only be used by a person at a time, and monotarea , where you can only run one program at a time .

In the same way , the user’s communication with the OS is carried out through two modes , the first of which is the interactive mode and the second batch mode .


Another of the most important factors of all this is access, in this case there are three different ways for the user to access it . In the event that the person uses an old Microsoft operating system like Windows 95 or Windows 98, will have to access it through the following path:

  • Go to effectivelyHomeART.
  • Then select subsequentlyAdjust.
  • There choose the option “Restart computer in MS-DOS mode”.

Another way that can be found to access the OS also in these versions of Microsoft is as follows:

  • Click on effectivelyHomeART.
  • There, select keyPrograms•.
  • Then choose “MS-DOS Command Prompt.”

You can also go directly to DOS without going through Windows , to do this you must press the F8 key several times until a list with different options appears on the screen where you select “Command Prompt.”

The last way to access this OS is if you are using a newer Microsoft operating system, either Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, 8 or 10. strong> In this case the MS-DOS as such does not exist , but if we find a prompt that simulates all or almost all DOS functions .

DOS does not exist in these versions of Windows because none of those systems are dependent on DOS, something that does happen with Windows 95 and 98 . Therefore, in some of these newer versions it is possible that some of the MS-DOS commands do not work.

To access the system from W10 you have to type the CMD command in the Cortana search box , you can also do it by pressing the “Windows + R” keys, and there you type in the “ CMD” box. Then you will see many MS-DOS commands such as the following : CD, CLS, MK , among many others.


As we mentioned earlier, in MS-DOS only one program can be used at a time, this is because it has basic Kernel functions , also known as the operating system core . However, there is an exception with some TSR programs, which are capable of allowing multitasking . But, despite this, problems continue with the non-reentrant kernel.

In this case it is that every time the process requires a service within the core of the operating system, it cannot be interrupted by another request until it has finished with the first one . All this is due to the fact that it has a monolithic core , where the whole core is developed within the kernel in monitoring mode.

Therefore, the kernel defines what is a high level abstraction layer on the hardware of the computer , where a group of system calls is made to to be able to implement each of the corresponding services, be it process administration, memory management, competence among others. In addition, it should be mentioned that each of the maintenance modules is separated in a general way.

In this way, it is very difficult or complicated to be able to get the integration code between all the modules. This leads to that when all the modules are executed in the same address space , a single error in one of them can damage the entire system .

What are all versions of the MS-DOS that were developed? ?

Since its launch in 1981, this operating system has been launching several versions in order to increase functions and tools to facilitate the use of each of its users .


Here are each of these versions:

PC DOS 1.0

This first version was released in 1981 along with its release. The same would last only one year since by 1982 the next version known as PC-DOS 1.1 would be released . At that time both PC-DOS and MS-DOS were developed by Microsoft and IBM , but it didn’t take long for them to separate.

After this Microsoft would announce that it wanted to create its own interface for DOS , this resulted in Windows 1.0, which was announced in the year 1983, but at that time this did not generate any interest to IBM. It was then until 1985 that the first full version of Windows 1.01 was released.

MS-DOS 2.0

Thus, as of March 1983, the second version of this OS was officially known, which was launched through of the new IBM personal computer, which was called PC / TX and in turn had the new version 2.0 of MS-DOS . This new version was mostly inspired by Unix . Where I used the file system and the FAT concept .

Therefore, this whole process allowed to add new Unix features to MS-DOS , which grew to 20.0 lines of assembly code . At that time, what was the CP / M86 and would also be removed from the market, so that the new dominant operating system for computers could be established as .

Among its main novelties was that it managed to introduce the hard disk in computers, this would allow the execution of quite large application without any problem a, thanks to this the PCs started moving from being personal equipment to commercial machines, being used by small, medium and large companies.

MS-DOS 3.2

By August 1984 , IBM launches the PC / AT, this became the first person use machine that had chip 28 strong> 6. In that same year the 10 MB disks and the RAM disk would be released, where a part of the memory was used as a high speed disk .

A while later it would end up launching what was version 3.3 , this would include in its high-capacity 3.5-inch disks system available for the PS computers / 2 of IBM.

OS / 2

In 1984 both IBM and Microsoft would launch the operating system called OS / 2, it took almost the same time as the launch of the new version MS-DOS 3.3. This new OS / 2 system launched to the market came in order to replace the MS-DOS, but this could never be achieved since the OS / 2 was launched with many delays and inconveniences, which was incomplete.

However, this system had many more advantages and features than DOS itself, especially because OS / 2 used all available memory to run in protected mode . That is how for the year 1991, Microsoft announces to the public that it was leaving the OS / 2 project, this would not be accepted by IBM who were very close to close all kinds of negotiation with Microsoft .

MS-DOS 4.0

It took a little more time for IBM to be convinced that the OS / 2 operating system would not be accepted by users, that way they could not get the desired success with it and would abandon it. This is how afterwards it surprised the public with the release of the MS-DOS version 4.0 version , it was also produced by Microsoft.

This new version will be produced with the reverse engineering system , where it could be distributed through PC clone manufacturers .

After this both IBM and Microsoft managed to understand and were convinced that the MS-DOS was not going to disappear , therefore, both companies made the decision to continue to improve this system so that it could continue in the market.

MS-DOS 5.0

This version 5.0 was released in April 1991 , and which served to expand the system memory . But, despite this, there were still many restrictions on extended memory since it only allowed to use 640 KB, this is how the version was able to be able to keep for a longer time your own code in extended memory.

This new version was successful in both companies and began to be sold in stores and by computer manufacturers .

MS-DOS 6.0

The new version of this OS was launched in March 1993, two years later of version 5.0 . This is how Microsoft added the disk compression utility called DoubleSpace . At that time the most popular discs had a capacity of 200 to 400 MB , this being very insufficient for most users as they needed more disk space on the disk .

We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.