Old Tech: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Started by: priscus (inactive)

Recently, whilst moving stuff, got down to strata which had not seen the light of day for about three decades.

Found some interesting software which I no longer remembered I ever had: all vintage, circa 1980’s stuff.

Now, and here’s the rub: all of it on 5.25 inch floppy disks. Do you remember them? The generation prior to the plastic encased variety.

I did not expect the material to still be retrievable. Nevertheless, knew that I had the required device lurking amongst unused junk. Unearthed the required 5.25 inch drive. This had a very heavy degree of corrosion on the massive flywheel at base of drive spindle. Carefully cleaned with fibreglass brush, taking care not to get residue entering the mechanism. Crossed my fingers in hope that this had not had too great a deleterious effect on the balance of the flywheel.

Well, the drive groaned and grated, and squeaked all through its use, but nevertheless, read all the data without error. So, I now have it safely archived on my hard drive.

And, now for the ugly. They are all DOS programs.

Just can’t get DOS to install on the (home-brew) machine that I am using. (Not even when give its own low capacity IDE PATA drive.)

Have got MS DOS 5.0, & 6.22, DR DOS/Caldera and FreeDos 1.2.

It is perhaps no surprise that I can’t get DOS to install on a 64 bit, two core processor machine with SATA, USB PCIE, HDMI etc, but, I have had DOS installed on this machine in the past, and I do not recall having to do anything special to attain this. I only removed DOS from this machine in 2006.

The Caldera, and FreeDos are on CD, and although they will not install, both run fine if run as live disk, so none of the more advanced tech seems to be an impediment to DOS running per se.

I’ll have to unearth some Pentium 4 machines, and see if they fare any better.

Started: 27th Mar 2017 at 23:50

Posted by: arrow (895)

Would an emulator do the job?

DOSBox is for mainly for DOS games but it may be good enough, "In theory, any MS-DOS or PC-DOS (referred to commonly as "DOS") application should run in DOSBox, but the emphasis has been on getting DOS games to run smoothly, which means that communication, networking and printer support are still in early development."

VMware Workstation Player may be the best bet. Setup instructions here.

Replied: 28th Mar 2017 at 15:41

Posted by: priscus (inactive)

Not sure if emulator would work for this stuff. It is environment sensing and control stuff, and makes use of the ability which DOS had to directly address ports to input and output binary data.

Most of it, I don't have the peripheral hardware to make use of.

First lot: Used a general purpose input and output card. I have kept this card. It was very expensive when purchased: it cost MORE than did the rest of the PC.

Alas, it has ISA interconnect, and I no-longer have any devices sporting ISA sockets.

Had intended to modify it to use on PCI, but it proved cheaper to construct a PCI card from scratch. here

I think this PCI card got left in one of the PCs which I gave away when I had a big clear out a couple of years back. Whilst remake would be simple, unfortunately the German manufacturer who supplied the pre-programmed logic array appear to no-longer be in existence.

So the programmes written for PCI, also I can no longer use.

However, there remain a third set of DOS programs, and these all re-purpose the PC's parallel, serial, and games ports to manage digital input and output channels. Some of the stuff is written in x86 Assembler code.

As Microsoft's Operating Systems, post DOS, do not permit direct addressing of input/output ports from the OS (need system calls) and I never progressed to writing kernel modules for Windows, I was thinking of experimenting by way of dropping machine code input and output modules as subroutines into high level language running on current Windows.

Guess though, I really ought to stick to Linux, where such tasks are a mite easier.

Replied: 28th Mar 2017 at 18:03


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