A magazine about programmers, code, and society. Written by humans since 2018.

Issue 070: DOS

Welcome to the 70th issue of De Programmatica Ipsum, about DOS. In this edition, we gather in loving memory to celebrate the legacy of a bygone category of operating systems; in the Library section, we browse the pages of "Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics & Orthodontia"; and in our Vidéothèque section, we watch the "Gary Kildall Special" episode of the "Computer Chronicles"

A Requiem For DOS

Operating systems shape our computing experience. They determine the kind of things people can do with their computer, how they can interact with it, what kind of programs they can run on it, and what kind of output they take out of it. In many ways, operating systems follow l’air du temps when it comes to their functionality; they offer slightly more than required, just enough to tantalize the imagination of users, while severely limiting the capabilities of developers on the other hand.

Gary Kildall

I had a revelation during the preparation of this article. Legend has it that Gary Kildall, as Forbes put it, "could have been Bill Gates", if it were not that he was busy flying his airplane the day IBM knocked on the door. Most analysts dealing with this foundational moment in computing history, however, leave aside a particular piece of information, which I think explains why IBM chose Microsoft over Digital Research as the provider for the operating system of the original IBM PC, even though Bill Gates himself told IBM to knock on Gary’s door instead.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, one of the most appropriate locations in Buenos Aires to find international magazines was the quintessential Calle Florida. In those huge newsstands next to the corner with Avenida Corrientes one could find incunabula ranging from the September issue of Vogue to the latest edition of Paris Match. Among those, every so often my programmer self would jump in joy to find some lost computer magazine; and by far the one that made me the happiest to unearth was, without any doubt, Dr. Dobb's Journal.

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