Get your DOS on!

DOS for dummies cover

DOS for Dummies (3rd Edition)

For those of you of a certain age, DOS knowledge was essential if you wanted to use those fancy programs like LOTUS 123, Wordstar, and other early office software. Back then everything was command line, and knowledge of DOS around my office made you one of the top geeks. Even though Windows was around in the very early days of personal computers, I don’t think it was a norm in offices until the early to mid 1990s. I remember when I started back to work after having kids, and all of sudden everything was Windows. It took me quite a while to adjust given my previous experience.

I saw the page with the floppy disks and I was trying to remember the last time I had seen a 5″ floppy. Aside from strolling down memory lane of my experience in office technology, there isn’t much need for a DOS guide. I think this one can be weeded.


dos for dummies back cover turning off a computer dialing a modem

disk hardware


  1. It doesn’t belong in the library anymore, but I love the Dummies series, along with the Complete Idiot’s Guides.

    I once used The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ethics for an Intro to Philosophy course, and had to reassure the students that the title was not a reflection of my opinion of them.

  2. I’m kind of surprised this book is in such good shape. I’d have figured it to circ a lot. Maybe people checked it out, realized they 1) didn’t want to deal and didn’t finish or 2) needed to buy their own copy for reference.

    The Dummies and Complete Idiot’s books got me through a lot of the 90s. Probably still have a couple. But even “Gardening for Dummies” couldn’t help me.

  3. Believe it or not: even within Windows I still occasionally use DOS commands… e.g.
    if I want to store something on an external station (in my case, G).

  4. OOOh, what a stroll down memory. I remember the first PC installed at the office. It had 2 3.5 slots and a 5 inch drive, too. I actually bought a box of 5 inch floppies. The clerk very carefully explained how out date they were. I was able to reassure him that we were going to use it for demonstration and cleaning

    1. I got a free deal on 5ΒΌ floppies, but they were all DEC format and I couldn’t even force DOS to reformat them to work. I think they’ve been destroyed by now.

  5. I gave the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Windows (from a couple of years earlier than this one, IIRC) to my IT professional wife. She derived much amusement from it.

  6. I remember going to a COMDEX (computer trade show, biggest of the time) in the mid-1980s. The highlight of one event was Bill Gates driving a golf cart around the ballroom while Esther Dyson (a pundit of the era) tossed out packages of the first version of Windows to attendees. I snagged one, but it wouldn’t run on my office PC, so I gave it away. (Yes, I do regret that…) I suspect one reason it took time to gain traction is that it wasn’t universally functional for a while.

    I’m not in software anymore, so I don’t know what the present situation is, but the early Windows versions were actually shells running on top of DOS. You could still get to the command line if you wanted to. Maybe you can now, but I don’t know how to do it.

    1. Windows Me was the last standalone DOS shell, end of the “9x” series. The next consumer-focused Windows version was XP, which was NT based. To the present, you can still get a DOS-like thing by running “command” (x86 only) or “cmd”. PowerShell is slowly edging them out.

  7. In the mid-80s I taught myself DOS and earned myself a promotion. At one time this would have been a very valuable book.

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