As it started as an experiment on Windows 2, it became a product on it’s own, and launched an entire industry, along with being copied by every major OS vendor. In the 90’s having a screen saver was key, just as having simple games like solitaire, especially a broken shuffle one where the user wins most of the time led to Windows being heavily favored in the work space.
So for the heck of it, I figured I’d check it out, and as always thanks to Jason Scott, there is a copy of 1.02 on cd.textfiles.com And as reported it’s basically the ‘mystify your mind’ screen saver.
The runaway hit Magic Screensaver became After Dark, which then had several licensed addons like the Simpsons, Star Wars etc. Back then themes for Windows were popular along with sound effects. A lot of the functionality is still in Windows, although most people prefer that their machines are silent, only making audible alerts if there really is something wrong. But back in the day a ‘multimedia desktop’ was a $5,000 noise maker, and not many offices were impressed. Which of course gave rise to the ‘office sound card’
Naturally under Windows there were virtual device drivers to emulate a sound blaster, as people still wanted to game with this cheaper ‘business audio’ card, although with the rise of Windows 95/Direct X gaming under Windows finally became a thing making Sound Blaster compatibility a thing of the past.
But going back to After Dark, they made a fatal error of teaming up with Berkeley Systems, who eventually started to make their own releases pushing the original team out of their own product.
The toasters became focal in a few lawsuits, namely the Jefferson Airplane album, although it was dismissed as the artwork for the album had not been trademarked! And they were able to force the Opus ‘n Bill screen saver where Opus shoots the toasters. Late they changed the toasters to have propellers to avoid being too similar.
Oddly stuff like screen savers too have largely fallen out of fashion with the rise of power saving monitors that just turn themselves off either from a lack of new images, or a signal from the OS.
One of those weird legacy things that in today’s world really doesn’t have that much meaning, but a scant 20 years ago was a major industry.
Well from popular request I finally got around to loading this up. I went ahead with my favourite retro emulator, PCem for this, as it can nicely emulate an EGA display, unlike most emulators which do VGA, however when it comes to older versions of Microsoft products they really can detect the difference between EGA and VGA.
So to start off, I downloaded from the project page, this version of PCem, compiled it, and installed MS-DOS 4.01 , from April of 1989. The Windows 3.0 Debug Release 1.14 itself is dated from February 22nd, 1989. Which I figured is close enough to the time period. I’m using the 486SX2/50 because I’m too impatient for the 386 speeds, but it does work fine on 386 or higher emulators. It does NOT work with any 286 emulation. I’m also using the HIMEM.SYS from MS-DOS 4.01 vs the one with the Windows 3.0 (Alpha? Beta? Technical Preview?) since it is slightly newer.
There is no setup program per say, rather it just xcopies all the files to a directory, and from there you run ‘d.bat’ and away you go. This version is hard coded to an EGA display, which again is the reason I went with PCem. Once you start it up, you are greeted with:
And it identifies itself as Windows Version 2.1
And first thing to notice is that on my setup with 8MB of ram, I have over 6MB of RAM free. Compare this to regular Windows 2.1 which gives me 399Kb of ram in my current setup.
And with Windows/386 Version 2.1 it provides 383Kb of real memory, along with 6.7MB of EMS memory, as the Windows/386 Hypervisor includes EMS emulation.
Of course the major limitation of Windows 2 is that it runs in real mode, or in the case of Windows/386 an 8086VM. As I mentioned a while back in a post about Windows 3.0, This was game changing.
As now with Windows running in protected mode, all the memory in my PC is available to Windows, and I am using MS-DOS, with nothing special.
Besides the limitation of being EGA only, the Debug version of 3.0 is that there is no support for MS-DOS applications, as WINOLDAP.MOD is missing.
This is clearly an interim build of Windows 3.0 as mentioned in Murray Sargent’s MSDN blog Saving Windows from the OS/2 Bulldozer. As mentioned from the article they began their work in the summer of 1988, so considering this is early 1989 it shows just how much progress they had made in getting Windows 2 to run in protected mode. Along with Larry Osterman’s MSDN blog post Farewell to one of the great ones, which details how the Windows 3.0 skunkworks project was writing the new improved 386 hypervisor, and how Windows 3.0 got the green light, and changed the direction of not only Microsoft but the entire software industry.
I’ve been able to run most of the Windows 2.1 applets, however I’ve not been able to run Excel 2, or Word 1. I suspect at this point that only small memory model stuff from Windows 1 or 2 is capable of running. Although at the same time, when 3.0 did ship, you really needed updated versions of Word 2 and Excel 3 to operate correctly.
The applets from Windows 2.1 seem to work a LOT better than the one from Windows/386 2.1 if that helps any.
This is an interesting peek at an exceptionally early build of Microsoft Windows.
Well for some reason I was interested in Tetris (Тетрис), and wanted to find an early version. Looking around I did manage to find some background by Vadim Gerasimov, on the whole origin of Tetris. What I never realized is that the first version was written for a Soviet PDP-11 clone, then ported to the IBM PC using Turbo Pascal! Or that it was all done in text mode! The thought at the time is that every PC could run 40 colum mode, and thus would run Tetris.
Along the way I did manage to find some other early Russian artifacts for the IBM PC, namely MS-DOS 4.01 which not only has its own site, but has an excellent view into the history of localizing MS-DOS, and what the culture was like at the time. There is even a promo video in Russian of course..
And I did come across a ‘Перевод’ of Windows 2.1 done in 1990, but no luck on Windows 3.0 .. I wonder if they ever had OS/2 1.x ..? Which speaking of non english versions of OS/2 1.x seem non existent, but I did find reference to there being a release in Japan, but naturally not even a screen shot.. I did find one rather harsh review of Windows/286 2.1 (Pусский), but seeing as far as I can tell there was no Excel 2 or Word 1 for Windows in Russian it would have been pointless running it back then.. Unless you had the 386 version!
So I figured, I’d mash in as much of the Russian bits into Windows/386, add in Tetris, and include some Amiga MOD files for the music (yes, besides being text based, there was *NO* music in the original tetris! The Adlib! didn’t exist back then). I’ve used the excellent 8bitboy to play the music.. You can mute if if you so wish, or skip around to various tracks…
So while not all that ‘authentic’ it’s close enough I think…
HTI (Hates the internet) chose this program called rlfossil, which is for MS-DOS..
RLFOSSIL is an implementation of multi-line serial port driver corresponding to the Fido/Opus/Seadog level 5 specification and a simple HAYES-compatible modem emulator. It allows applications usually worked through BBS’s to run on the Internet, or in IP-based local net.er, and rlogin and telnet emulation using IP services numbers 513 & 23. RLFOSSIL allows combined work with other FOSSIL drivers (X00,BNU etc.).
So I thought between that, and all the Windows/386 excitement I’d try for something even more insane. How about running a multiline BBS on Windows?
So in the same effort, I was going to use Qemu 0.14.1, with MS-DOS 4.01 (the first version I could find that came with share.exe), and Windows/386 2.11. The installation of MS-DOS 4.01 worked fine on an 80MB disk image, thankfully it was one of the things that DOS 4 could do better then 3 is large disk images… Yes I know 3.31 could as well, but it didn’t come with share so it was out. One strange thing after install was this message…
It is kind of forboding that DOS is warning me that because of my “large” disk I better run share. Since I plan on having a multi node BBS all in one computer, I need to run share anyways.
The next exciting part was installing Windows/386 2.11. The installation went pretty smooth, and with Qemu the mouse worked fine. So far, so good. I couldn’t use himem.sys that comes with Windows/386, nor could I use the himem.sys that comes with MS-DOS as the Windows/386 version complains that that A20 line is already active (?) and the MS-DOS one has Windows complaining that the HMA is already in use. Sadly then my conventional memory footprint will be unsatisfactory, but I don’t see any way around it.
The next part is configuring rlfossil. rlfossil needs a driver to talk to the network card, and you can find them on crynwr, namely the ‘other‘ packet archive, which contains NE2000 drivers. Keeping with HTI, I’m going to use the NE2000 and configure Qemu with the PCI NE2000 driver.
Packet drivers are loaded from the command line something like this:
ne2000 0x60 11 0xc100
This loads the driver on software interrupt 0x60, and by default the PCI NE2000 is configured for IRQ 11, port 0xc100. Qemu 1.6.0 changed the PCI NE2000 to use port 0xc000 for what it is worth..
So keeping with the HTI tradition, I’m going to put my packet driver (ne2000.com) and unpack the rlfossil archive in c:\packet. The next thing to do is configure rlfossile which uses the wattcp configuration file. Since I’m going to use the usermode NAT and a redirect, I configure my VM like this:
This configures the VM for 16MB of ram (which would have cost a FORTUNE back then), the PCI NE2000, and it’ll redirect telnet from my host machine into the VM.
And just like HTI, I went with telegard, because it supports fossil based ports.
Well that sure was a *LOT* of work, and surprisingly testing it with a single node, actually works. And you can bring up a few other MS-DOS prompts and it’ll work fine. But if you launch the second node…
Disaster struck. So needless to say, while Windows/386 was pretty slick for the day it just couldn’t measure up. So I figured for the hell of it, I’d try Windows 3.0 I mean I would have imagined that Windows 3.0 most certainly could NOT handle this kind of challenge.
So with some disks shuffled, I fired it up and..
It actually worked! So with a LOT of chaos going on I managed to get Trade Wars 2002 running, although I couldn’t figure out how to automatically figure out the node.. Hell the whole door configuration thing is.. bizarre. Synchronet really kicks ass in regards to easy of configuration.
And using PIF’s to configure each node for some easy of launching, and some reduced memory, I could easily run all four nodes that rlfossil can support.
I have to admit, Windows 3.0 really is impressive considering all the UAE’s and how generally crappy we thought it was at the time. I’m sure even emulated having a multiple Ghz cpu helps quite a bit.
And look at all that memory.. I guess it’s pretty impressive it even works. Since Windows anything throttles the CPU at 100% I’m not going to put this online…. Although at the same time combined with an CPU idle program (is there a Windows 3.0 idle vxd?) it sits ok, but who wants a single user system in 2011?