86-DOS 0.3

86-DOS 0.3
Version of 86-DOS
Release date1980-10/11
86-DOS 0.2
Replaced by
86-DOS 0.33

86-DOS 0.3 is a probably unreleased beta[1] build of QDOS/86-DOS. Not much is known about the build besides its existence.

Because of the fact versions 0.33 and 0.34 are sometimes mislabeled 0.3, even by Tim Paterson himself, this release's sources are limited. The only known correctly labeled source is a 1981 license agreement between Microsoft and Seattle Computer Products.[2]

Authenticity of sources[edit | edit source]

Mislabeled sources[edit | edit source]

  • 86-DOS Version 0.3 User's Manual/Programmer's Manual by Tim Paterson[3]
  • "A Short History of MS-DOS" by Tim Paterson[4]
  • comp.os.cpm message by Barry Watzman[5]

Correctly labeled sources[edit | edit source]

There is only one source mentioning 0.3 that is known to be correct - the 6 January 1981 license agreement between Microsoft and Seattle Computer Products, which mentions a sole instruction manual versioned "0.3".[note 1] The license agreement states that the manual is dated 15 November 1980.[2] Because 86-DOS 0.33 - the next version - was released in December 1980,[7] the version number cannot be a mislabel.

A second source that may be correct is an email between Tim Paterson and comp.os.cpm newsgroup member Bill Hemmings. In the email, Paterson refers to version "0.3" of 86-DOS, saying it was only seen by 30 people.[1] It is unknown whether this is a mislabel or not.

Features not present[edit | edit source]

Though the license agreement doesn't give added features, it does give 7 features that Microsoft wanted added to 86-DOS in Exhibit A. They are:[2]

  1. Directory expanded to include date.
  2. Date above to be input on user startup.
  3. Date above to be accessible and thus set/reset thru BASIC.
  4. Editor modified to
    • Ability to abort an edit of a line and of an edit session.
    • Ability to page thru and edit a program that is too large for memory.
  5. Updated and expanded documentation for all OS interfaces.
  6. SUBMIT facility comparable to CP/M.
  7. Support of disk blocking/deblocking. (Jan 15)

There are a few interesting things about these requests.

  • Even though it is known 86-DOS supported 8.3 filenames,[8] the first request reveals that the directory table did not include dates.
    • The second request also reveals that the date wasn't requested upon boot as it is in later versions of 86-DOS, including 1.00.
  • The fourth request reveals that EDLIN did not have the ability to abort a line, which the later 0.34 manuals show has been implemented by pressing Ctrl+X.
    • The fourth request seeks the ability to "page thru and edit a program that is too large for memory", which is not implemented before 0.42. It is unknown whether this is supported in 1.00.
  • The sixth request for a "SUBMIT facility comparable to CP/M" reveals batch files did not have the % modifier as they did in 1.00 and 1.14.
  • The seventh request is the most interesting. While disk blocking was already partially implemented by 0.3, disk deblocking was not supported, with the 0.34 manuals specifically noting that a deblocked disk may cause hard disk errors. It is unknown whether this is supported in 1.00.
    • The interesting thing about this request is the date at the end, January 15. Because the license was signed on 6 January 1981, it could mean that the feature was going to be supported on or by January 15. However, this seems unlikely, as the next version - 0.42 - was released 41 days after the date. It's possible that blocking/deblocking was instead implemented in 86-DOS 0.34, but if the date has a different meaning, it will remain a mystery.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. This manual is not the same as the scanned manuals also versioned "0.3", as instead of having a "user's" manual it has an "instruction" manual. Additionally, the scanned manuals are from "[circa] December 1980" and contain features that were requested by Microsoft in the license such as the ability to abort a line in EDLIN.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hemmings, Bill (5 May 1999). Dos 1.1. comp.os.cpm.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Brock, Rod; Allen, Paul (6 January 1981). 86-DOS License Agreement with Microsoft. Slated Antitrust Documents.
  3. Paterson, Tim (2005). 86-DOS Manuals. PatersonTech.
  4. Paterson, Tim (June 1983). A Short History of MS-DOS. BYTE Magazine. p. 246.
  5. Watzman, Barry (12 November 1999). which is first, Intel or Microsoft. comp.os.cpm.
  6. Watzman, Barry (22 July 2009). Images of Seattle Computer Proudcts (SCP) S-100 boards. comp.os.cpm.
  7. Hunter, David (March 1983). The Roots of DOS: Tim Paterson. Softalk for the IBM Personal Computer. p. 12-15.
  8. Paterson, Tim; Wharton, John (3 October 1994). From the Mailbox: The Origins of DOS. Microprocessor Report. p. 1-2.