Save DOS: 25 Years of PC World's DOS Coverage

PC World is hardly a newcomer to the DOS cause. Here's a guided tour of our past work news, reviews, and tips. And read more about our campaign at

What More Could a PC World Reader Want?

Early in the game, we were pretty sure we were on to something with this whole DOS thing. In 1983, our third issue's cover story was an "Exclusive Hands-On" with DOS 2.0, in which we informed readers that "each group of related files is called a directory." The important Create Directory (MKDIR) and Delete Directory (RMDIR) commands also were unveiled. In our story on IBM's hot corporate XT system, we pointed out that the IBM monogram was now embossed on the front of both the floppy and hard drives (Wow!), and a much-needed article on "How Self-Training Cures Computerphobia" rounded out the issue. 'Nuff said. (Here's the scoop on PC World's Save DOS campaign.)

Spelling Checker Heaven

By May 1985, PCW was deep in DOS apps. In this review of a program called OfficeWriter, we explained its OfficeSpeller feature--an 80,000-word dictionary, with a spelling-checker function that also suggested alternative spellings. Of course, to get OfficeSpeller cranking, you had to press a complicated command while editing your document, and then insert the dictionary disk. And crank it did, taking only 10 minutes to check our 10-page document. Smoking!

In Living Color: Microsoft's DOS Big Three

In July 1985, a two-page color spread showed the three guys we called "The DOS Drivers." Looking ultrathin were Jon Shirley (left), Bill Gates, and Steve Ballmer, balding even then. We called the pre-Redmond Microsoft "the ubiquitous Bellevue, Washington-based firm," and said the three were hard at work on a successor to DOS 3.10. Gates said his vision of the future was a "workstation on every desk." He added, "The vast majority of those workstations are going to be based on MS-DOS and Intel's architecture. That's why it's up to DOS to be everything you're ever going to want in an operating system."

WordStar 2000

In June 1986--in a roundup of the latest word processing programs for DOS systems--this graphic showed the copious menus and prompts of the optimistically named WordStar 2000.

Early Microsoft Word

In the same 1986 word processing software review mentioned in the previous slide, we pointed out the early Microsoft Word's extensive four lines of command and document information below the text of this letter to the (probably fictitious) Jack Fusillade of Marketing Dynamics. Hope Jack was worth the trouble.

Great Graphics!

Get a load of the state-of-the-art graphic from a document created in WordPerfect 5.0 in our September 1988 review. This version of WordPerfect allowed you to move a graphic horizontally or vertically within its borders and, gasp, scale it. Slice that pie--it was in color, too.

DOS Shells for Your Convenience

Our special software issue of July 1990 proclaimed that the new Windows 3.0 was quieting critics, but fought back on the DOS front with a story called "Making DOS Manageable," which looked at top DOS shells. Among the shell programs we reviewed were Peter Norton's Norton Commander 3.0 and Xtree's XtreePro Gold 1.4. Our Best Buy was the $149 PC Tools Deluxe.

Floppy Problems

The July 1990 issue also answered a reader's question about coping with the new 1.44MB, 3.5-inch floppy drive on his state-of-the-art home PC. The problem? Those disks didn't work in his stodgier work PC, which had a drive that read only 720KB floppies. It took more than a full page, including this graphic, for PC World's Karl Koessel to answer the question, showing the reader how to solve the problem using a DOS 4.x shell.

DOS 5.0: Best DOS Ever?

By July 1991, we had declared that DOS 5.0 was "unquestionably the best DOS ever." It had been nearly four years since DOS 4.0--a version we (in hindsight) called "hobbled by bugs, stiff memory requirements, and a difficult installation procedure." Thank heaven we hadn't called version 4.0 the "Best DOS Yet" upon its arrival.

"At Last, A DOS You Can Really Use"

We continued to salivate over DOS 5.0 in the July 1991 issue. Under the headline "DOS Does It Right," we ran this chart illustrating how the shell offered several features found in Windows, including a task list that let you switch between several running apps.

The DOS 6.0 Bandwagon

By May 1993, DOS 6 was available, and PC World was trumpeting why you had to have it, although we conceded that it wasn't revolutionary. We spotlighted DoubleSpace (the DOS 6.0 disk-compression product) and a new disk-defragger feature. We also interviewed a business owner who told our readers how useful these DOS features would be for his 40 new PCs with their 120MB hard drives.

Time Marched On: DOS Word 6.0

In the same May 1993 issue, we warned that readers might feel old when we noted that Microsoft Word had been around for ten years. In our review of DOS Word 6.0, we described how the venerable word processor moved closer to Windows functionality and included drag-and-drop text editing. The screen shot in the article showed a document displaying close up after the user clicked on a plus sign in the software to invoke the new zoom-in feature.

The DOS Party Starts to Wind Down

By October 1993, PC World wasn't so rah-rah about DOS anymore, as this cover proves. The main story inside noted that DOS 6.0 was bedeviled by bugs and other inconsistencies. Shocking! We worked with PC Welt, our German sibling magazine, which stress-tested DOS 6.0 for any flaws Microsoft might have missed. Then we gave our readers seven pages of tips to cope with this version of DOS. But we also devoted quite a bit of this issue to an examination of Windows NT.

Compression Problems on Several Fronts

Our December 1993 issue said that MS-DOS 6.2 had fixed problems with the DoubleSpace feature introduced in DOS 6.0 by adding DoubleGuard, a data-protection function that checked for code and data corruption in the RAM used by DoubleSpace. That wasn't the only DoubleSpace problem, however: Microsoft removed disk compression in DOS 6.21 after being successfully sued for patent infringement by a company called Stac. Although PC World continued to print DOS tips and tricks, the announcement in 1994 of Microsoft Windows 95 was the beginning of the end of our major focus on DOS.

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