You Can Still Use an MS-DOS Laptop in 2023
Which OS is installed on your laptop? I’ll guess, Windows, OSX or maybe Chrome OS. But how about MS-DOS?
Let’s take a challenge and imagine that you have this machine from 1988.
Which by the way, had a $1,999 price — the value equivalent to $4,989 today. Can we do something useful on this laptop nowadays? Let’s figure it out.
At the end of the 80s, the typical personal computer was looking like this:
It was a nice machine but it was absolutely far from “portable”. If you wanted something really portable in the 80s — you had to be on the cutting edge of the tech of that time, it was something that most people were not able to afford. Actually, switching from a “desktop” to a “laptop” gives you a new dimension of freedom, and this is what people were ready to pay for. I can’t even think of a suitable analogy for what kind of modern gadget can cost about $5K nowadays. Today, even switching from a $500 to a $5000 laptop will probably not give you a similar increase in productivity at all. So, it was a unique experience, and it is interesting and challenging to recreate it.
First, let’s figure out what specs can we get. The typical MS-DOS laptop at the beginning of the 90s had an 80286 or 80386 CPU with 8–16 MHz speed, 512 KB–2 MB of RAM and up to 10 MBytes HDD (some cheap models had only floppy drives without hard disk drives at all). Screen resolution can vary from 640x400 monochrome CGA to “high resolution” 640x480 VGA. The screen itself can be a low-contrast LCD, with or without a backlight, or even a gas-plasma screen — the technology which is completely disappeared today.
Can we make something useful using this machine today? Let’s take the challenge.
One of the obvious advantages of working with texts on a vintage laptop is a keyboard. The keyboard is really nice and has full-size keys, the difference is clear, especially compared to…