Microsoft open-sources early versions of MS-DOS and Microsoft Word

Posted Mar 26, 2014

Yesterday, Microsoft opened up the source code of early versions of MS-DOS and Word for Windows. The Computer History Museum curates some of the most significant historical software programs. The Computer History Museum will now make MS DOS 1.1 and 2.0 along with Microsoft Word for Windows 1.1a open-source. This will enable future generations of technologists understand the roots of personal computing.

IBM worked with Microsoft to work on a project code-named “Chess” in 1980. At that time, Microsoft provided the BASIC language interpreter for IBM. IBM ended up asking Microsoft to create an operating system. Microsoft co-founders Paul Allen and Bill Gates did not know how to build one at the time so they licensed it from Seattle Computer Products. This became the foundation of PC-DOS and MS-DOS.

?For more than a year, 35 of Microsoft’s staff of 100 worked fulltime (and plenty of overtime) on the IBM project. Bulky packages containing computer gear and other goodies were air-expressed almost daily between the Boca Raton [IBM] laboratory and Seattle [Microsoft]. An electronic message system was established and there was almost always someone flying the arduous 4,000 mile commute,? said Gates in an interview with David Bunnell for PC Magazine in the early 1980s when the IBM PC launched.

Microsoft released the first DOS-based version of Microsoft Word in 1983, which was was compatible with a mouse. In 1989, Word for Windows became a huge hit for the company and was generating over half the revenue of the worldwide word-processing market.

The file size of MS-DOS was under 300KB back then. Now Windows has gigabytes of code in it. Microsoft has sold over 200 million Windows 8 licenses so far and over 1 billion people use Microsoft Office.

[Source: TechNet]