Posts Tagged ‘MS-DOS’

30 years anniversary of the first mass produced portable computer COMPAQ Grid Compass 1011

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Reading Time: 3minutesGrid Notebook Big screen logo

Today it is considered the modern laptop (portable computers) are turning 30 years old. The notebook grandparent is a COMPAQGRiD Compass 1011 – a “mobile computer” with a electroluminescent display (ELD) screen supporting resolution of 320×240 pixels. The screen allowed the user to use the computer console in a text resolution of 80×24 chars. This portable high-tech gadget was equipped with magnesium alloy case, an Inten 8086 CPU (XT processor) at 8Mhz (like my old desktop pravetz pc 😉 ), 340 kilobyte (internal non-removable magnetic bubble memory and even a 1,200 bit/s modem!

COMPAQ Grid Compass considered first laptop / notebook on earthy 30 anniversary of the portable computer

The machine was uniquely compatible for its time as one could easily attach devices such as floppy 5.25 inch drives and external (10 Meg) hard disk via IEEE-488 I/O compatible protocol called GPiB (General Purpose instrumental Bus).

First mass prdocued portable computer laptop grid COMPAQ 11011 back side input peripherals

The laptop had also unique small weight of only 5 kg and a rechargable batteries with a power unit (like modern laptops) connectable to a normal (110/220 V) room plug.

First notebook in World ever the COMPAQ grid Compass 1101,br />
The machine was bundled with an own specificly written OS GRiD-OS. GRID-OS could only run a specialized software so this made the application available a bit limited.
Shortly after market introduction because of the incompitablity of GRID-OS, grid was shipped with MS-DOS v. 2.0.
This primitive laptop computer was developed for serve mainly the needs of business users and military purposes (NASA, U.S. military) etc.

GRID was even used on Space Shuttles during 1980 – 1990s.
The price of the machine in April 1982 when GriD Compass was introduced was the shockingly high – $8150 dollars.

The machine hardware design is quite elegant as you can see on below pic:

 COMPAQ grid laptop 1101 bubbles internal memory

As a computer history geek, I’ve researched further on GRID Compass and found a nice 1:30 hour video telling in detailed presentation retelling the history.

Shortly after COMPAQ’s Grid Compass 1011’s introduction, many other companies started producing similar sized computers; one example for this was the Epson HX-20 notebook. 30 years later, probably around 70% of citizens on the globe owns a laptop or some kind of portable computer device (smartphone, tablet, ultra-book etc.).

Most of computer users owning a desktop nowdays, owns a laptop too for mobility reasons. Interestengly even 30 years later the laptop as we know it is still in a shape (form) very similar to its original predecessor. Today the notebook sales are starting to be overshadowed by tablets and ultra-books (for second quarter laptop sales raised 5% but if compared with 2011, the sales rise is lesser 1.8% – according to data provided by Digital Research agency). There are estimations done by (Forrester Research) pointing until the end of year 2015, sales of notebook substitute portable devices will exceed the overall sales of notebooks. It is manifested today the market dynamics are changing in favour of tabets and the so called next generation laptopsULTRA-BOOKS. It is a mass hype and a marketing lie that Ultra-Books are somehow different from laptops. The difference between a classical laptop and Ultra-Books is the thinner size, less weight and often longer battery use time. Actually Ultra-Books are copying the design concept of Mac MacBook Air trying to resell under a lound name.
Even if in future Ipads, Android tablets, Ultra-Books or whatever kind of mambo-jambo portable devices flood the market, laptops will still be heavily used in future by programmers, office workers, company employees and any person who is in need to do a lot of regular text editting, email use and work with corporative apps. Hence we will see a COMPAC Grid Compass 1011 notebook likes to be dominant until end of the decade.

Download and Play Apogee’s Raptor (Call of the Shadows) DOS arcade game on GNU / Linux and BSD* with dosbox / Few words on Apogee and Shareware

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Reading Time: 4minutes

Since its early days dosbox has elolved a lot. For all those who haven't heard of dosbox, it is x86 Free Software Linux / FreeBSD DOS emulator

DosBox supports, almost all the game classics we used top lay in oldschool times when DOS (Disk Operating System ) version was running on top of most personal computer.

The most spread versions of DOS people used to use on their PCs were Novell (DR-DOS) more rarely used, and MS-DOS (The Microsoft DOS ver.).

I'm sometimes being sentimental about the past so I remembered for Raptor Call of the Shadows !

Having a bit of experience with DOSBox to run few DOS games I've decided to give a try with dosbox.

First I have to dig for this shareware, since this game is part of the sharewares, nowdays a binary version of it is freely distributed on the net.
Finding the game however took me about 10 minutes, as most of the download links for Raptor, were either dead or required some kind of registration. After a bit of look I found it on an old torrent with few seeders and succeded downloading.

For the convenience of people who would like to download run the Raptor arcade classic game check here

Nicely Raptor works out of the box directly launched with dosbox emulator.
Dosbox has packages for most Linux distributions.
I personally used it on my Debian Linux so installed via apt:

debian:~# apt-get install dosbox

The game works without any dosbox hacks, just download, unarchive and launch with dosbox:

hipo@debian:~$ wget
hipo@debian:~$ tar -zxvf Raptor_Call_of_The_Shadows_Apogee_arcade.tar.gz
hipo@debian:~$ cd Raptor/
hipo@debian:/home/hipo/Raptor$ dosbox rap.exe

Apogee Raptor Screenshot Dosbox Debian linux

Raptor Call of the Shadows main screen linux debian

Dosbox raptor level

People like me 😉 who lived in that glorious times when DOS was a standard for a desktop operating system pretty much like MS Windows is today, certainly remember the awesome games produced by Apogee Software a company later known as 3D Realms

Apogee until this very day remain one of the greatest game creation companies in history of games. 3D Realms played a crucial role in development of PC game industry as well as has a great santimental value to probably million of old school arcade game addicts.

They can be ben undoubtedly can be praised for having created some of the most awesome arcade games for all times.

Some of the early hit games they created you probably know, few of the titles are:

  • Duke Nukem I, II
  • Arctic Adventure
  • Monster Bash
  • Stargunner
  • Commander Keen series
  • Wolfenstein 3D
  • Blake Stone
  • Terminal Velocity (Terminal Reality)
  • Shadow Warrior
  • Death Rally
  • Blood

Apogee was also notable for being a company to had established the so spread mostly during the late 80s up to the early years of the second millenium.

ShareWare model of distribution is an interesting phenomenon, that co-relates more or less with the ideas of Free Software.
The idea of ShareWare games was games are distributed for Free and the end customer (gamer) is asked to pay for a game only if he likes it.

Some of the shareware published games was available for free download and play, however the game was only bundled with only a number of game levels to unlock the rest of the game levels you had to play some money.

The shareware games produced were then freely published and shared via dial up access BBS nodes (A text based Bulletin Board System similar to nowdays Forums).
BBS has historically been the major way of sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas and opinions preceding the massive rise of the WEB.
Today most computer users would probably even haven't heard about BBS, if you like to have a general idea on how BBSes seemed to look .

ShareWare started to loose speed with the decline of BBS and the emergence of Free Software.

Some of the conceptual ideas of ShareWare found its way in "Open Source & Free Software", and commercial companies like RedHat and SuSE.

If you have tried some other Apogee games with Dosbox on Linux and FreeBSD and you can positively confirm they work it will be great. In theory all of the DOS games of apogee should work fine with dosbox. Any feedback or game recommendations of your favourite games of the DOS years are mostly welcome in comments. I'm curious to hear what was your favourite DOS game. Maybe when I have time I'll prepare a list of my favourite games put them here 😉

Convert Windows / MS-DOS end of line characters (CR/LF) to UNIX (LF) with sed

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Reading Time: < 1minute
I guess everyone has ended up with problems into a script files written under Windows using some text editor which incorrectly placed into the end of lines Windows (rn) end of lines instead of the UNIX (r).
Those who have have already take advantage of the nice tiny utility dos2unix which is capable of convert the Windows end of lines to UNIX. However some older UNIXes, like SunOS or HP-UX does not have the dos2unix utility into the list of packages one can install or even if its possible to install dos2unix it takes quite a hassle.
In that cases its good to say convertion of end of lines can be done without using external end programs by simply using UNIX sed .
The way to remove the incorrect Windows ^M (as seen in unix text editors) is by using the sed one liner:

server# sed 's/.$//' file-with-wrong-windows-eol.txt > file-with-fixed-unix-eol.txt

Triumph of the Nerds – A documentary about the rise of Personal Computers

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Reading Time: 3minutes

Triumph of the Nerds movie cover

Triumph of the Nerds is 3 parts documentary movie on how the Personal Computer was developed. The movie features interviews with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Allan Paul and many other IT veterans who played key roles for the development of the Personal Computer ,

The movie is an interesting watching for people interested into Information Technology and gives some minor insights on the starred interviewed people and their life philosophy. It was interesting times back then and it seems many of the guys who could participate in the PCs were very lucky, where others who made key developments which are de-facto standards today went into history without much being remembered.

Now the trends which these man set in world’s development is not nice. Even though PC brough a lot of fun in our every lives it suddenly started taking over our privacy and made the humanity divided.
The movie is a story of a man motivated by greed arrogancy and exploitation. Even though the movie has historical value it doesn’t even mention about Free Software Richard Stallman and the free software movement.

The movie talks about the development of CP/M the predecessor of Quick and Dirty DOS (QDOS), MS-DOS Windows 1,2,3, Windows 95 etc.

It also tries to picture the events around the raise and fall of IBM and OS/2.

The most notable parts for me in the movie are the showing off of some old computer hardware and Mainframe servers as well as the quick explanation on how Mainframes irons predecessed the PC. Another interesting moment in the movie is displaying Steve Jobs demonstrating the Xerox’s Alto graphical interface. Talking about Jobs it was quite shocking for the world his sudden death just 3 days ago so (R.I.P).

The movie author Robert X. Cringery stress out in the movie the great struggle between the so called “the blue Elephant” IBM and the just emerging early Microsoft Corporation

Triumph of the Nerds slightly mentions Digital Equipment Corporation / DEC or COMPAQ as later known. DEC is company less known in todays world which had historically great impact on computer market, so its a pity the movie part mentioning DEC is so short.

What the movie misses is to aforemention About’s Digital Equipment VMS operating system known under the code name OpenVMS. OpenVMS even of today is believed by many to be the most secure Operating System ever developed.
The movie part that talks about DEC is the second part of movie it shows a nice COMPAQ portable computer.

DEC Compaq portable II Computer

One should admit COMPAQ portable Computer is a really trendy for its time, Also the way it sticks the keyboard to the screen does remind seriously the opening and closing of a modern laptop 😉

The movie includes some interesting, so called crash courses where the movie author gives some insight on elementary computing, so for those new to informatix the movie will surely be educative as well, though for a UNIX gurus this elementary computing scenes will look kinda ridiculous 😉

One serious flaw with this movie is the complete lack of interviews with Richard Stallman and the importance of Free Software for the development of modern PC and the influence of the free software culture on todays latest Macintosh and PC developments.

A related movie which probably most IT geeks already know / seen is Pirates of the Sillicon Valley
, hence large chunk of Triumph of the Nerds gives another point of view on the ideas and stories presented in Triumph of the Nerds

Triumph of the Nerds brings back some good memories of the glorious PC computer past for all of us who had been a DR-DOS/MS-DOS and Windows 3.11 / 95 users.