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Microsoft's Disk Operating System, also known as MS-DOS, was the first popular operating system for the IBM PC. It employed a command line interface.

A company called Seattle Computer Systems created MS-DOS and Microsoft later purchased it. Patterned after the CP/M operating system, it provided compatibility with the existing installed base of business applications such as WordStar and dBase.

MS-DOS grew to include more features from other operating systems. MS-DOS 2.0 introduced features from Unix such as subdirectories, command input/output redirection, and pipes.

The operating system was not a multi-user or multitasking operating system, but other software tried many attempts to retrofit these capabilities. Many programs were developed using the Terminate-and-Stay-Resident (TSR) function and other mostly-undocumented functions to provide pop-up applications. Add-on environments, like DesqView attempted to provide multitasking, and achieved a fair degree of success when later combined with the memory-management hardware of the Intel 80386 CPU processor.

After the release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984, people became interested in a graphical user interface. Many programs created their own graphical interface, such as Microsoft Word for DOS and the Norton Shell. However, that required duplication of effort and did not provide much consistency, so creation of complete GUI environments was the answer. Digital Research created the GEM environment with very little popularity, but Microsoft's own Windows was more successful, reportedly due to Microsoft's exclusive agreements with computer vendors.



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