View Full Version : Bad or missing command interpreter on IBM 5150 floppy

June 23rd, 2011, 08:17 PM
As some of you may know, I have been impatiently awaiting the arrival of the 5150 I bought back in April. Well, it finally arrived.

The system LOOKS great, but how does it work?!?! Well, there is a small problem. I need a new DOS boot disk. There was an original diagnostic disk loaded in one of the floppy drives when the computer arrived. I wasn't expecting it to work, but I tried it any way. It loaded and works perfectly. I ran through all of the tests, and again, everything works fantastic. Same thing when I boot to BASIC.

Here's the problem: Someone gave me a copy of DOS 3.0 on a single floppy, but that disk is giving me the dreaded "bad or missing command interpreter". Since I know the computer is fine, it has to be the that diskette or just DOS is corrupted. That's also what I found when I looked up the error on the web, and in these forums. Just a bad copy of DOS. :( Damnit! I guess right now, all I need is a bootable floppy with DOS loaded on it.

I hate to ask, but can someone send me a single floppy diskette with DOS 1.0 or 1.1? For that matter, any free version of DOS will be fine as long as it's compatible with my 5150. Unfortunately, I currently don't have the equipment to write a new disk. Later, I will be buying a serial port card for both my 5150 and my current computer, but until then I have to at least get the computer into DOS so I can load the programs to complete those file transfers. Once I get the boot issue resolved, I'll start looking at getting the serial ports I need to connect it to my current computer.

In the meantime, I will gladly pay for a floppy disk and postage if it means I can start using my new baby. If you have any other ideas, I'm all ears.

Thanks for reading.

June 23rd, 2011, 08:24 PM
You really don't want DOS 1.x--it's very limited and you won't be able to do much with it.

Try DOS 2.1 at a minimum--it's still quite contemporaneous with your 5150.

June 23rd, 2011, 08:47 PM
At least it's great that the old beast goes.

I have such a disk but I'm sure you could get one closer to where you are than having it shipped from New Zealand .:D


June 23rd, 2011, 08:59 PM
I have to agree that DOS 1.0 is not worth the trouble - DOS 3.3 is the earliest version I'd recommend (and I've run DOS 5 on a 5150 with no real trouble before, so it's not like it's going to overload your machine or anything.)

Unfortunately I don't have a machine with a functioning 5.25" drive in it at the moment - still, I'm sure there's folks around here who can provide you with a copy.

June 24th, 2011, 02:36 AM
Besides that floppy simply being a bootable floppy, I presume that you would also want the floppy to contain FORMAT.COM so that you can format blank floppies.

June 24th, 2011, 04:20 AM
Do you have a "modern" PC that has a 5.25" floppy in it? At least something that can be booted up? Doesn't need to be windows.

June 24th, 2011, 05:24 AM
As the person in question who originally sent you the disk, that probably tells me that our drives our out of alignment with each other. (the disk booted fine on my machine)
This is something that I have suspected for some time now, and someday will hopefully be going through a full alignment validation on all of my FH floppy drives once I get my oscope set up and a rainy weekend free to do it.

Of course, it could have been destroyed in transit, but I still want to align all my drives anyway just for the experience.

June 24th, 2011, 05:46 AM
Do you have a "modern" PC that has a 5.25" floppy in it? At least something that can be booted up? Doesn't need to be windows.

Or, even, a more modern PC, period. You can just borrow a floppy drive from your IBM and use it in the more modern PC to write disks. If you have a longish floppy cable, you can do it without even unbolting the floppy drive from the IBM...


June 24th, 2011, 05:59 AM
Not necessarily - many newer PCs either don't support the disk controller at all (despite having the hardware) or only allow 1.44MB 3.5" format. Blargh...

June 24th, 2011, 06:29 AM
This seems like the most probable explanation. And I only say that because the original diagnostic disk I found in the drive works fine. I'll know for sure once I get another diskette to try out on the system. BTW Hargle, did you get the PM I sent last week?

June 27th, 2011, 08:47 PM
I just won an auction for a 100 meg zip drive on E-Bay for only $4.99. I'll be buying a box of zip disks and a couple boxes of 360 Kb floppies. Once I can get the computer to boot properly, and the zip drive set up, I'll transfer some applications and games over to it and go from there. This is definitely the cheapest rout. I know I have to buy the software to transfer the files to the 5150. Still once this is set up, it will work fine. I had my best friend over today to clean the floppy drives. He actually found another penny in the primary drive. I'm really glad we found that and that it didn't cause any major problems. The system stillonly boots from the diagnostic disk. Oh, well. Once it arrives, I hope everything will be OK. I want to say thanks again for all of the help I have gotten with these two threads.

June 27th, 2011, 09:11 PM
Well, the suggestion to use Laplink or Interlink with a parallel cable is probably the cheapest route if both PCs have a parallel port; you can of course also use serial ports but that will be somewhat slower.

Direct connect also offers the advantage that you can directly load and run programs from the server computer so you don't actually need to use diskettes at all.

June 28th, 2011, 09:01 PM
Success!!! I just received one DOS disk. (There will be one more arriving soon with a later version) My 5150 booted fine. It brought up the date and time like it's supposed to and once that was entered, everything is working! I checked the other floppy drive and it reads and writs fine too. I finally have my baby working!

Now, onto other matters. I won an auction last night for a 100 meg zip drive too. Grand total including shipping: $14.50. So using suggestions from all of you, an modem7's web site I am getting ready to start using the zip drive as an external hard drive through a parallel port. There are over 3500 games stored on my primary computer so it will take some time to extract them all, but when I'm done, I'll have one hell of a collection of games to play. I also have some productivity apps, including word processors that I'll be using my 5150 for as well. Thanks to all of you, I can get started.

Thanks again everyone. Once again I am a very happy geek!

DOS lives on!!
June 29th, 2011, 04:23 AM
You sure the 5150 will hold all those games??

June 29th, 2011, 04:35 AM
Not sure if you have a V20 in there, if not you might have to use the palmzip driver, right?

June 29th, 2011, 06:26 AM
Yeah, I'm following the instructions for using zip drives on modem7's site. My 5150 came already upgraded with RAM, a parallel port, There are a lot of games in my collection. most came from the old IBM5150 web site. There are undoubtedly going to be some that wont fit in the 5150's 640 Kb of RAM, mut I'll weed through them all as I go. Right now, I am just glad that I'm able to get the computer into DOS. The bad part about all of this, is that I pretty much have to learn how to do a lot of things all over. For me, this is the fun part. It's like returning to school again.

Not sure if you have a V20 in there, if not you might have to use the palmzip driver, right?