The Computer History Museum (CHM) announced today that it has, with permission from Microsoft Corporation, made available original source code for two historic programs: MS-DOS, the 1982 "Disk Operating System" for IBM-compatible personal computers, and Word for Windows, the 1990 Windows-based version of their word processor.
IBM went outside the company for many hardware and software components of their 1981 personal computer. Though most vendors were kept in the dark about the project, code-named “Chess,” IBM developed a unique relationship between their Boca Raton-based team and Microsoft, then a small company based in Seattle.
Microsoft, which was providing the BASIC language interpreter, agreed to also supply an operating system. Without their own operating system already in place, they licensed a product from nearby Seattle Computer Products and worked closely with IBM to make the changes they wanted. It shipped as "PC-DOS" for IBM and "MS-DOS" for other PC manufacturers. We are today releasing the source code of MS-DOS version 1.1 from 1982, and of version 2.0 from 1983.
"Version 1.1 fits an entire operating system – limited as it was – into only 12K bytes of memory, which is tiny compared to today's software," said Len Shustek, CHM Chairman.
Microsoft's DOS-based version of Word, first released in 1983, was not a success against the dominant word processor of that era, WordPerfect. The 1989 release of Word for Windows changed all that: within four years it was generating over half the worldwide word processing market revenue. It was a remarkable marketing and engineering achievement. We are today revealing the technical magic by releasing the source code to version 1.1a of Word for Windows.
“MS-DOS and Word for Windows built the foundation for Microsoft’s success in the technology industry,” said Roy Levin, distinguished engineer and managing director, Microsoft Research. “By contributing these source codes to the Computer History Museum archives, Microsoft is making these historic systems from the early era of personal computing available to the community for historical and technical scholarship.”
"We think preserving historic source code like these two programs is key to understanding how software has evolved from primitive roots to become a crucial part of our civilization,” says Shustek.
For a blog posting surrounding the release of this source code, please visit:
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The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California is a nonprofit organization with a four-decade history as the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of computer history, and is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world, encompassing computer hardware, software, documentation, ephemera, photographs and moving images.
The Museum brings computer history to life through large-scale exhibits, an acclaimed speaker series, a dynamic website, docent-led tours and an award-winning education program. The Museum’s signature exhibition is “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing,” described by USA Today as “the Valley’s answer to the Smithsonian.” Other current exhibits include “Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2,” and “Going Places: The History of Google Maps with Street View.”