While messing around with Windows/386 and talking to others going through their old stuff, I’d forgotten that in the box was a working model of Excel. Since I only have the physical diskettes for 2.03, I did dump the disks for 2.11 when I had that.
At this time in history the big spreadsheet that defined the PC was 1-2-3 which took the spreadsheet mantle away from the CP/M spreadsheet who in turn took it away from the progenitor VisiCalc on the Apple II. And this was the chance to define the new spreadsheet for a whole new platform.
Excel started out on the Macintosh, but with version 2 it was time to come to the PC for the new and exciting Windows 2 platoform. And to get people to try it out the key was free working demos.
I thought it was interesting that it comes with a demo showing off the ability to take data from several spreadsheets and make a 3rd with data. Oh what an exciting world 1989 was!
Oddly enough I couldn’t directly import text (csv) data into XL, but I could use Excel 3 to create a version 2 xls with my current top blog stats and then create some graphs.
I stumbled onto these three disks, seemingly out of place in history. Windows/386 version 2.0 is a strange one in that it shipped to OEM’s in late 1987, making it & Xenix part of the initial 386 wave of Operating Systems/Environments and beating out not only the OS/2 launch in 1988, but taking advantage of the 80386’s v86 mode, something that OS/2 wouldn’t be able to do in a shipping product until 1992.
This version itself appears to be a retail version of Windows/386 lacking any clear OEM identification that was so prevalent for the era. Indeed setting it up it offers a few interesting platforms:
Getting this to run was a little bit of a challenge as much as I prefer Qemu, these older 2.0x versions of Windows/386 have a BIOS/disk incompatibility with the hypervisor resulting in errors reading the hard disk. Although PCem/86Box have no such issues. I think it’ll run off floppy/CD-ROM/Network without any issue though.
The PCjs version of 2.03 has 138 setup files (not counting the PIFs), compared to the eBay’s 141, while the PCjs 2.01 has 59 files.
That said, well it’s Windows/386 mostly from 1987 with slightly updated EGA/CGA VMM drivers from early 1988 that just didn’t quite make the cut. To me what is confusing, is that it identifies as 2.03 while it’s closer to 2.01 in file count and functionality, unlike 2.03 it really ought to have been a 2.02, if there even was such a thing.
Otherwise it’s really not all that interesting short of the timestamp. It’ll run on CGA/EGA *IF* you have the proper adapter in place, although VGA is compatible, the environment will detect that it’s not actually the proper card and refuse to run. I tried to put in the 2.01 CGA/EGA drivers, but that resulted in an OS version mismatch (I didn’t check if 2.01 was locked to the Compaq OEM of MS-DOS)
I installed the infamous pair Word & Excel. Despite Word 1.1a demanding at least Windows 2.11, it appears to run okay. Excel 2.1d loaded without complaining. There isn’t very much convential memory for either, but they both can use expanded memory, which the hypervisor can create and share out without any emm386 or any equivalent driver. I can only imagine the incompatibles of trying to balance these drivers at the time, and how much the coming DPMI specification was needed.
And as the old saying goes the three top problems in Windows version 2 is memory, memory and memory. Trying to run anything graphical will exhaust convential ram, forcing you to single task anything graphical which kind of defeats the whole point of Windows. You go from this:
Oh well it’s 1987, and users were kind of used to being disappointed as such. It’s really no wonder why Windows 3.0 became the smash it it was.
And of course you can't talk about Windows/386 without this gem. (Video in MPEG-1/Audio MPEG-2 care of JSMpeg).
Yes, this WinFile. So Microsoft apparently went through their Windows NT 4.0 source code tree from 2007, and decided to pull this tool out, and send it out into the world. It’s available in a ‘original’ version, and a ‘v10’ version which includes the following enhancements:
OLE drag/drop support
control characters (e.g., ctrl+C) map to current short cut (e.g., ctrl+c -> copy) instead of changing drives
cut (ctrl+X) followed by paste (ctrl+V) translates into a file move as one would expect
left and right arrows in the tree view expand and collapse folders like in the Explorer
added context menus in both panes
improved the means by which icons are displayed for files
F12 runs notepad or notepad++ on the selected file
moved the ini file location to %AppData%\Roaming\Microsoft\WinFile
File.Search can include a date which limits the files returned to those after the date provided; the output is also sorted by the date instead of by the name
File.Search includes an option as to whether to include sub-directories
ctrl+K starts a command shell (ConEmu if installed) in the current directory; shfit+ctrl+K starts an elevated command shell (cmd.exe only)
File.Goto (ctrl+G) enables one to type a few words of a path and get a list of directories; selecting one changes to that directory. Only drive c: is indexed.
UI shows reparse points (e.g., Junction points) as such
added simple forward / back navigation (probably needs to be improved)
View command has a new option to sort by date forward (oldest on top); normal date sorting is newest on top
Which is quite the list of things to add to the old WinFile.
Latest Visual Studio updates now bring official ARM/ARM64 support for Desktop Apps, little hidden, but here is how to enable it.
Being able to compile Windows ARM apps, I wanted to try to actually run them, but … on what exactly? There are some developer evaluation boards. Apparently someone managed to run it on Raspberry PI. Most importantly however you can run Windows 10 ARM64 on QEMU. This is some serious Fun With Virtualization!
I’m not claiming to be the first. Clever people have already done it. I just wanted to make it little easier for the lazier of us. Here is how.
Follow the link above but skip the shady UUP business in step #3 and download ready made iso instead. You can google the iso image from windows.cmd and it will take you to this link. You need the rest of the files like UEFI firmware and virtio drivers.
For the even more impatient here is a ready to run image with Windows pre-installed. Because QEMU now comes with DLL HELL I’m not including it in the archive. You will have to install it separately.
Go have fun and port some apps to ARM64 with free community edition of Visual Studio. I’m going to start with Aclock 🙂
I just found this post over @pagetable.com, the source code to a bunch of old Commodore 8 bit products have been located and recovered, and place online over on github. Even better there is detailed instructions on cross assembling from a suitable PET machine for building your own KERNAL ROM.
Other sources include:
BASIC_C64 reindented BASIC_C64, KERNAL_C64 and DOS_1540 to approximate the LST
BASIC_CBM2_A reindented BASIC_CBM2_[AB], KERNAL_CBM2_[AB] and EDITOR_CBM2 to appro
BASIC_CBM2_B reindented BASIC_CBM2_[AB], KERNAL_CBM2_[AB] and EDITOR_CBM2 to appro
DOS_4040 reindented DOS_4040 to approximate the LST output of the assembler
DOS_8070 reindented DOS_8070 to approximate the LST output of the assembler
DOS_8250 reindented DOS_8250 to approximate the LST output of the assembler
DOS_D9065 reindented DOS_D9065 to approximate the LST output of the assembler
EDITOR_CBM2 reindented BASIC_CBM2_[AB], KERNAL_CBM2_[AB] and EDITOR_CBM2 to appro
KERNAL_C64_01 added KERNAL_C64_03 and renamed the existing KERNAL_C64 to KERNAL_C64_01
KERNAL_C64_03 fix disclaimer of C64 KERNAL -03 to reflect the LST printout
KERNAL_CBM2_A reindented BASIC_CBM2_[AB], KERNAL_CBM2_[AB] and EDITOR_CBM2 to appro
KERNAL_CBM2_B reindented BASIC_CBM2_[AB], KERNAL_CBM2_[AB] and EDITOR_CBM2 to appro
Super late, but pretty cool too!
Of interest is the PET2001 Basic sources. While there have been reversed efforts dating back for years, this is the actual source code. Namely the header.
TITLE BASIC M6502 8K VER 1.1 BY MICRO-SOFT
RADIX 10 ;THROUGHOUT ALL BUT MATH-PAK.
$Z:: ;STARTING POINT FOR M6502 SIMULATOR
ORG 0 ;START OFF AT LOCATION ZERO.
;0=PDP-10 SIMULATING 6502
Which is pretty damned interesting. The infamous “WAIT6502,1” feature is also included!
In this case, I’m looking at the ultra popular Sim series, and their Windows releases. While I was a big fan of SimCity, especially having played it on an Amiga, when I found out that there was a Commodore 64 version I had bought it immediately as I wanted to play it at home. And let me tell you, it was a severely underwhelming experience.
From the logo it’s all down hill. I know that SimCity is actually from 1985, and as the first version, the Commodore 64 version is basically the prototype.
Which was just graphically underwhelming, but I still played the hell out of it. And then I saw the Spectrum 48k version. Yes the blocks are ‘buildings’ as the units fill up they will turn into black with only the letter remaining. Despite the ultra minimal graphics, the game play is there. And once you get used to the bizarre combination keyboard+joystick controls it is addictive. I mean it is SimCity!
But going to the PC, I kind of grew out of SimCity. DooM was the hot game, and the whole immersive 3d thing. And of course during that era being on the PC I only knew of the MS-DOS version. While there was a version for OS/2 Warp released much much later, and by then if I felt the urge there was SimCity 2000 for Windows.
But after getting the kick for SimEarth, and finding the Windows 3.0 version, I was much surprised to find out that there was a version of SimCity of Windows 3.0 as well!
And I can see why I never had seen this for retail, or knew anyone who had it.
That’s right in the included form, the price was $59.95. And SimEarth was $69.95! To put that in perspective that would be now $107.17, and $125.04 respectively. And people think $60 for a game today is expensive!
To get the full experience I went ahead and loaded up PCem, with a 386 and EGA graphics to get that original feel.
Since this requires Windows 3.0, with either EGA or VGA graphics, and 2MB of RAM, I figured I would go with a ‘top of the line’ souped up 386DX. I tried to load it up with the Wyse700 driver, and the game fails to load resources. I don’t know if its even possible to make black and white or four colour resources, as I live in the future, and I have millions of colours!
That said, I tested and it has no issues with 8bit depths either.
Installation is pretty smooth, the game is shipped on either two 360k 5 1/4″ diskettes, or a single 720kb diskette. While modern games have so much more, there is many things this game is lacking. But Maxine isn’t one of them.
No really, she is listed as a feature.
The music is through the PC speaker. Just like the sound effects. Multimedia integration with Windows that we take for granted today just wasn’t a thing back then. The version I have is 1.0, Although a pirated version 1.1 that was sent in actually includes WAV sound effects, and a single midi track. However it doesn’t run on Windows 3.0. So lucky me!
Ah the UAE, the bane of Windows 3.0. They were so unpopular that Microsoft had to rename the dialog.
Living in the constraints of EGA feel absolutely claustrophobic in today’s world. 640×350 just isn’t enough screen rel estate. Even 640×480 is far far too small. And that lead to one issue I found
While using a SVGA driver so I can get that impossible to afford experience of 1280×1024 in 256 colours, but the application was never meant to run in something that wide. You can easily put child windows ‘behind’ the dead space, and you can never recover them. You have to save and re-launch. bummer.
If any application failed to run on Windows 95, I took it as a personal failure. I spent many sleepless nights fixing bugs in third-party programs just so they could keep running on Windows 95. (Games were the worst. Often the game vendor didn’t even care that their program didn’t run on Windows 95!)
Yes, they basically knew it had problems. In the box they even had this cute flyer:
And yes, rest assured it actually does work. It even works on Windows 3.00a under Citrix MULTIUSER 2.0. Pointless as there is no way to have remote graphical displays but nice to see it work.
So what went wrong? Where was all the follow up games for Windows? Obviously the hardware needed was incredibly expensive. A 386 or even a 286 with a few megabytes of RAM was expensive. VGA or EGA monitors were also very expensive. Even mice were expensive! Putting together a low end PC basically barred you from this high end premier experience. I can’t imagine that Maxis sold many copies of this. As mentioned above I’m pretty sure there is a reason why I never saw this in the wild.
Spending $3000 in early 1992, which is $5197.95 in today’s money. I can’t even begin to imagine spending over $5,000 to play a game. It’s no wonder when older machines show up on eBay people want far too much for them.
In a strange way I like to watch SimCity animate in the background. It’s like a fish tank, or staring out into a busy street. With the advantage that I can summon a giant lizard to destroy it at my whim.
This one showed up on eBay of all places. The original MSRP was $49.95 USD.
Well it seems that back in the early 90’s Microsoft was transitioning their Basic offering from the QuickBASIC to Qbasic. And one of the launch products was the Microsoft Game Shop, back from 1990. This was a specialized version apparently without any compiler, but included a tutorial based around games to teach basic.
Which back in the day it looks like it would have been a good way to inspire kids, although I have never heard of it. There is even a glowing review in Compute, issue 130.