Disk Operating System (DOS)

Short for disk operating system, DOS refers to the original operating system developed by Microsoft for IBM, sometimes also referred to as MS-DOS (Microsoft disk operating system). Once the standard operating system for IBM-compatible PCs, DOS started to decline with the rise of Microsoft Windows.

The initial versions of DOS were very simplistic and resembled another operating system called CP/M. At the height of its popularity between 1980 and 1995, DOS was fundamentally a 16-bit, single-user, single-task operating system, so its inability to support modern computer applications led to a shift away from DOS as the foundation for Windows 95 and 98. Subsequent Microsoft operating systems (including those as recent as the 32-bit Windows 10) support DOS commands and programs, but DOS is no longer required to run Windows.

Small, niche communities of users still favor the nostalgic, distraction-free interfaces of DOS derivatives like FreeDOS and DR-DOS to run legacy software, classic DOS games, and embedded systems. Game of Thrones author George RR Martin has been a vocal DOS advocate, citing his preference for word processors run on DOS because they do not use spell check to correct the vocabulary of his fantasy novels.

For Denial of Service (DoS), see DoS attack.

Examples of DOS commands

The DOS command-line on modern Windows systems can be accessed from the Start menu by typing cmd and pressing the Enter key.

Command

Function

CD and CHDIR

Changes the current working directory

DIR

Displays the contents of a directory

COPY

Makes a copy of selected file(s); can also be used in concatenation

DEL and ERASE

Deletes one or more files

EDIT

Launches the text editor

MOVE

Move one or more files to another directory

REN

Renames a file or directory

DELTREE

Deletes one or more files or directories

CLS

Clears the screen

DATE

Displays or changes the system date

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

Related Articles

Early Adopter

Early adopters play an integral role in the shift from untested to critical technology—they're the first buyers to invest in new hardware, software, or...

Process Automation

Process automation shortens or eases manual tasks, often making the results more accessible to users. Automation typically decreases the need for human deliberation or...

Digital Marketing Acronyms and Terms to Know

Many companies have had to evolve their businesses to meet consumer wants and needs in new ways. One area that is evolving consistently and...

Database Software

All organizations must store and manage data in a database. Database software is key to efficiently accessing, controlling and sharing the information stored in...

Accenture

Accenture is a global professional services company that specializes in information technology (IT)...

Best Managed Security Service...

Organizations of all sizes can outsource their management of security devices and systems...

Gartner

Gartner is a world-renowned information technology (IT) consultancy and advisory firm that conducts...