December 30, 2005
The revenge of DOS
Or how my obsolete skills became useful again
Microsoft is reintroducing our old trusty friend, the C:\ prompt. It will, in theory, give Windows' users the ability to create programs similar to that available to Unix users as shell scripts. What Microsoft fails to mention is that this functionality has existed for quite some time as DOS batch programming. Anyone- like me- who has been geeking around computers since DOS' heyday will remember writing and using these things. Anyway, here is an excerpt:
While these new commands and scripts will interest primarily administrators and power users, less-technical types may benefit from Monad scripts that could circulate on the Internet as Unix scripts do. For example, a Monad script might quickly reorganize files and directories based on their name or creation date--a task that can take a fair bit of manual labor in Windows Explorer.
A beta version of Monad for Windows XP is available as a free download. Registration is required, and you will also need to have.Net Framework 2.0 (available at the same page) installed.
I dunno, but it seems that there's always some sort of catch with Microsoft. Or maybe it's the effing critical flaws that get discovered daily, ones that allow a hacker control of your PC. Nice, huh?
Posted by: Physics Geek at
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In the heyday of RSX on PDP11s, you could also execute the RSX equivalent of dos prompts, (MCR command lines,) from your favorite Basic, Fortran or whatever program. (Hey folks, who do you think DOS copied from???) Also, all the programs could be executed from a MCR command line.
You could also execute system directives, (rewind the mag-tape, read block n of the disk, etc.) from your favorite program too.
This made hacking incredibly easy, (at a time when "hack" was not a perjorative term.)
Alas, Digital never had good marketing, and was unable to penetrate the desktop market, even though they had markedly better gear.
Posted by: Frank Borger at December 30, 2005 12:48 PM (q9wso)
I would like to mention that "markedly better gear" does not consist of something that is better from a purely technical perspective. It has to resonate with the consumer for one of several reasons:
1) aesthetic appeal( it's pretty!)
2) low cost
3) brand recognition
If you fail in #3, you are almost certain to fail.
Someone else who worked on a PDP* computer. More to the point, someone willing to admit it. Cool.
Posted by: physics geek at December 30, 2005 01:33 PM (Xvrs7)
I have programmed a PDP-11 in FORTRAN. I also saw a PDP-8 being used (as an instrument controller) though I did not use it myself. (It was replaced by a 6809 card plugged into a PC-AT slot.)
The PDP-8 was so old that when it required service, a Digital executive came out to do it. None of the younger employees knew anything about PDP-8s.
I still use DOS regularly. DOS is really peppy on a 3GHz processor with 7200 RPM SATA disk. Even QBASIC gives reasonable performance, and compiled languages, wheeeeeee!
Posted by: Bob Hawkins at January 05, 2006 03:10 PM (eZ0vq)
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