View Full Version : What version of DOS would this machine be running?

July 17th, 2012, 12:58 PM
I have two XT's one of which I know originally ran 3.3 because it is from late 1987 but the second computer I have is from 1989, so should it be running 4.01.(1988 ) My question is, did 4.01 come on 360k or 1.2MB 5.25 floppies? I know that this was the transition time and I have 3.3 on 360k and MS DOS 5 on 1.2MB. The machine has support for and only contains 360K floppy drives. So if 4.01 is 1.2MB then it would of been running 3.3. And how much should I expect to pay for a good copy of 3.3 and 4.01?

July 17th, 2012, 01:30 PM
According to my copy of IBM PC-DOS 4.01, it is supplied as follows:

2720K 3"
21.44M 3"
5360K 5"

No mention is made of 1.2M media.

July 17th, 2012, 01:35 PM
I suspect that computer was shipped with DOS 3.3; DOS 4 was very unpopular.

My copy of MS-DOS 4.01 is on 360k 5.25" floppies.

Cost will be about $50 including shipping though you may find it cheaper.

July 17th, 2012, 01:40 PM
I have IBM DOS 4.00 on 720k disks. I also have MS DOS 5.00 RC3a on 360k disks.

DOS lives on!!
July 17th, 2012, 01:43 PM
It would've and I would recommend running DOS 3.3 on the XT. It would be better fitting for an XT type system and DOS 4.01 wouldn't have been widely deployed on systems then due to it's unpopularity.

July 17th, 2012, 01:44 PM
My Vicki has DOS 4.01 on original 5.25" floppy disks, but I'm not sure if that was what it initially shipped with.

Shadow Lord
July 17th, 2012, 05:29 PM
Generally this is how I roll w/ DOS vs. Machine

5150, 5155*: DOS 1.0/CPM 1.0 (I run DOS 2.10 on these as well).
5140: DOS 3.2
5150 w/ 5160 (i.e. HDD), 5161: DOS 3.3
5162, 5170: DOS 5.0 or 6.22
386, 486: DOS 6.22

*My 5155 has a 20MB HardCard stuffed in it w/ an Orchid Tiny Turbo 286 so I run DOS 5.0 on it.

I am wondering what other people do? I know some of those versions are NOT the original versions that were available when the machines were released. However, they are the best latest versions of DOS for that class machine. Anybody else agree or disagree?

July 17th, 2012, 05:57 PM
I don't always follow it but for me what feels right:

5150 64K SSDD - DOS 1.1
5150 256K DSDD - DOS 2.11
5160 10M - DOS 2.11
5160 20M enhanced - DOS 3.2 (mine was originally loaded with this ~1987, and upgraded by owner to MS DOS 4.01)
5170 - DOS 3.2
Late 80's XT Clones - DOS 3.2 or 3.3 (except when fitted with larger drives, in which case DOS 4.01)
Late 80's AT clones - DOS 4.01 or DOS 5
1990 and up - DOS 6.22

That's just what feels right for me. I have not had any problems with DOS 4.01, I think it was just avoided like the plauge because of bugs in the 4.00 release. I think of it like DOS Vista, because like Windows Vista the reputation made the OEMs offer an older version of the OS (sometimes for additional cost). It does have some nifty features though.

Almost every XT clone I used back in the day ran MS DOS 3.3 - I guess it was just the reliable "goto" OS.
All of my machines from around 1989 were sold with MS DOS 4.01 but with an option for MS DOS 3.3 (and a few other odd OS options)

July 17th, 2012, 06:19 PM
I tend to put DOS 6.22 on all my older hardware that runs DOS unless I know the specific software I will be running needs an earlier version. Since I won't be placing too many TSRs on the older system, memory constraints don't occur too often.

DOS lives on!!
July 17th, 2012, 06:58 PM
I perfer the authenticity and the vintage feel to vintage computers, so I try to find all the information I can get on what the original OS installed on the computer was, and get it back to that state. DOS 6.22 for everything just seems too new.

July 17th, 2012, 07:05 PM
DOS 6.22 also won't run very well off a 360k floppy :P.

July 17th, 2012, 07:42 PM
Well, you can probably squeeze it onto one, but there's not a lot of room for much else. Remember the nuttiness of working off a single-floppy-no-hard-disk machine? The endless "Remove disk from drive A:, insert disk for drive B: and hit Enter" sort of messages...

July 17th, 2012, 08:07 PM
Yeah it's the disk swapping that's a pain, but it does start suprisingly quickly.
I can usually get a file transfer prog, my disk utils, and the DOS622 system files on a 360K.

July 17th, 2012, 09:52 PM
I forgot to mention this in the OP but when I got the machine I browsed the hard drive in another XT and typed ver and it gave 4.01. Formatted it later and put a copy of 3.3 on. Why was 4.01 so unpopular? Also getting a copy here will be a pain because if you live in Australia, generally software is less common and higher priced. If a copy of 4.01 comes on ebay, I'll get it.

July 17th, 2012, 10:02 PM
It wasn't 4.01 that was necessarily unpopular, but 4.0 was a real dog, with really serious bugs--it was pretty much an exclusively IBM effort. Microsoft AFAIK didn't release MS-DOS 4.0 without bug fixes, like IBM did. IBM released a rather lengthy CSD set to bring PC-DOS to 4.01. Given that IBM released PC-DOS first and that it was the only retail version of DOS (MS-DOS 5.0 was Microsoft's first retail version), it quickly got a bad reputation.

In contrast, DOS 3.3 was extremely stable--it just didn't have support for larger hard drive partitions. Compaq had MS-DOS 3.31 with some of the large-drive code, but PC-DOS 4.0 was the first retail DOS version that had the code. The memory footprint of DOS 4.0 was significantly larger than that of 3.3.

July 17th, 2012, 10:13 PM
4.01 had multiple issues that kept it from becoming the major shipped OS in the late 80s. First, people remembered 4.0's frequent bugs and were understandably reluctant to make sure the fixes corrected problems that would affect them. Second, XT clones shipped with very small hard disks (or no hard disk) but DOS 4.01 was mainly helpful with bigger partitiions. Third, DOSSHELL was so big that many larger programs would not have enough memory to run. Fourth, clone makers were on very tight margins and didn't want to pay for the extra disks that DOS 4 required.

July 17th, 2012, 10:43 PM
Anyone has the buglist of IBM PC-DOS 4.0? I have read a lot of times that it was a buggy version, but my PS/1 has PC-DOS 4.00 in ROM and I don't recall any bug...

Shadow Lord
July 18th, 2012, 06:57 AM
Given that IBM released PC-DOS first and that it was the only retail version of DOS (MS-DOS 5.0 was Microsoft's first retail version), it quickly got a bad reputation.


What about this then (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-First-Retail-Microsoft-MS-DOS-Operating-System-v-3-2-on-5-25-floppies-/251110936474?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a7760cf9a)? And I know I have seen MS-DOS 4.01 retail packages on eBay before to (i.e. non-oem branded).

July 18th, 2012, 07:32 AM
After posting that statement, I realized that it couldn't be right. So yeah, color me confused. :(

July 18th, 2012, 08:43 AM
Anyone has the buglist of IBM PC-DOS 4.0? I have read a lot of times that it was a buggy version, but my PS/1 has PC-DOS 4.00 in ROM and I don't recall any bug...

If you do a web search for DOS401.arc, you will find a copy of a list of fixes IBM made to DOS 4 by 1988.

For example, using the MODE command could overwrite other applications data segment. BUFFERS in extended memory would corrupt data. Token Ring cards would hang. Data would be lost when doing DMA into expanded memory. Can't read files longer than 500MB. PC-LAN wouldn't run with it. DOSSHELL had numerous flaws. You may have never encountered any of the problems.

July 18th, 2012, 06:27 PM
Granted I was quite young when DOS 4.0x was current, but PCs were always around at home and elsewhere and I don't think I ever saw that version running, on any XT, AT, clone, PS/2 or whatever else. It was either 2.11 to 3.3 or 5.0 and up.
Our family turbo-XT clone (1987) ran 3.2 standard - the only hard drive that machine ever saw was 20MB anyway. When 286s became low-end I usually saw them with 5.0 or newer.

July 18th, 2012, 06:34 PM
Again, one valid reason for using 4.01 was the larger drive partition support. Maybe it didn't matter as much to the home market.

DOS lives on!!
July 18th, 2012, 07:19 PM
I guess at that point in hard drive prices, the cost of them drove home users away from hard drives. Then, support for larger hard drives wouldn't be needed.

July 18th, 2012, 08:35 PM
Drives that were larger than 32MB were common in 1988. The Infoworld issue I looked at placed the 40MB drive as costing about $20 more than a similar performance 30MB drive. Admittedly, a 40MB FAT partition might actually store less than a 32MB partition so multiple partitions looks good and DOS 4.01 loses out on its major benefit. By the time affordable drives in the 100MB range became common, DOS 5 was in beta and waiting was a very easy choice.