Here is a blast from the past courtesy of the New York Times. WHO WILL WIN THE OPERATING SYSTEM WARS? DOS OR UNIX? Hint…well, neither really will. I found this article via Google when researching UNICOS earlier this evening. It provides a fascinating look back at history – not only for how a respected newspaper talks about technology, but also for the entire context of the computer industry 28 years ago.
By far the most common operating system for personal computers, with about 7 million machines using it, is MS-DOS. The letters stand for Microsoft Disk Operating System, after the Bellevue, Wash., company that developed it. International Business Machines chose MS-DOS for its PC, but renamed it PC-DOS.
The debate over whether UNIX will emerge as the universal standard for personal computers, however, still focuses on when, not if, it will finally vanquish MS-DOS. The trend in microcomputers has been to machines that can address very large amounts of memory, that can master high-resolution bit-mapped graphics, that can be easily hooked together in networks, and that can handle several software applications simultaneously, a trick called multitasking. The rap against MS-DOS is that it cannot do any of these things without extensive software massaging and without adding hardware and circuitry to the computer.