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Platform - DOS.png
Disk Operating System
Released: 1981-08-12
Discontinued: 2001-12-31
Developer: Microsoft
Type: Software
Microsoft's DOS (Disk Operating System) (or better known as the MS-DOS) was the most popular operating system for the IBM standard PC hardware through the 1980s and early 1990s. It was originally released in 1981, and steadily updated until the last standalone version 6.22 was released in 1994. Subsequent versions of DOS were used merely as a bootstrapping program for Windows 95 and above. Support for DOS was officially discontinued on December 31, 2001, although this was for the Windows XP version of DOS, not the older 6.22 version.

While MS-DOS was by far the most popular disk operating system at the time, similar disk operating systems were also made like IBM's PC-DOS and Digital Research's DR-DOS. However, since all of the OSs are essentially clones of each other when it came to game play, they will not be covered in this Wiki.



Released Version Box Notes
1981-08-?? 1.14 First official version sold by Microsoft under the name 86-DOS, renamed to MS-DOS in December.
1983-03-?? 2.0 UNIX-like file system, many more commands. Supports 5.25" 320 KB floppies, FAT16 hard drives.
1984-03-?? 2.11 Popular OEM release sold to over 200 PC manufacturing companies.
1984-08-?? 3.0 Supports 5.25" 1.2 MB floppies.
1986-10-?? 4.0 MS-DOS v4.0.jpg Released to OEMs only. Very unstable. Early multi-tasking.
1987-11-?? 3.31 MS-DOS v3.2.jpg Last upgrade to version 3. Supports FAT16B.
1989-04-?? 4.01 MS-DOS v4.01.jpg
1991-06-11 5.0 MS-DOS v5.0 - DOS - USA.jpg Editor and QBASIC. Supports 3.5" 2.88 MB floppies.
1993-03-?? 6.0 MS-DOS v6.0.jpg Includes MemMaker, DoubleSpace, Defrag.
1994-06-?? 6.22 MS-DOS.jpg Last true version of MS-DOS.

Since version 5.0, DOS includes QBASIC, a crippled version of the Microsoft QuickBASIC programming language with a few example programs to help showcase the language. Two of those programs, QBasic Gorillas (DOS) and QBasic Nibbles (DOS), include simple PC Speaker music.

Music and Sound

Since DOS is a software platform, it does not have any built-in sound capabilities, but it does assume any computer running it has a PC Speaker and three programmable interval timers, which programmers can set to a fraction of 1193181.8 Hz (down to 18.2 Hz):

  • Timer 0 is used to run things at a steady rate. The chosen rate determines how precise tempos can be. For example, at the default 18.2 Hz, tempos can be as coarse as 121, 137, 156 or 182 BPM, but nothing between. Worse, timer 0 is easy to disregard, which is why early games, songs and samples are way too fast on later computers. Unlike on 8-bit platforms, synchronizing audio with the screen refresh is very unusual.
  • Timer 1 cannot be used for audio and will not be further explained here.
  • Timer 2 directly determines the pitch of the PC Speaker.

The majority of third-party sound hardware devices manufactured in the late 1980s and early 1990s supported DOS. Here is a list of some audio devices:


DOS was the primary platform for the PC gaming market in North America for the majority of the life of MS-DOS, and after being localized to many different languages, found life in the foreign market as well. Some of the more popular computer lines that used MS-DOS include: