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When computers were first introduced in the 1940's and 50's, every programme written had to provide instructions that told the computer how to use devices such as the printer, how to store information on a disk, as well as how to perform several other tasks not necessarily related to the programme. The additional programme instructions for working with hardware devices were very complex, and time-consuming. Programmers soon realized it would be smarter to develop one programme that could control the computer's hardware, which others programmes could have used when they needed it. With that, the first operating system was born.
Today, operating systems control and manage the use of hardware devices such as the printer or mouse. They also provide disk management by letting you store information in files. The operating system also lets you run programmes such as the basic word processor. Lastly, the operating system provides several of its own commands that help you to use the computer. DOS is the most commonly used PC operating system. DOS is an abbreviation for disk operating system. DOS was developed by a company named Microsoft. MS-DOS is an abbreviation for ”Microsoft DOS”. When IBM first released the IBM PC in 1981, IBM licensed DOS from Microsoft for use on the PC and called it PC-DOS. From the users perspective, PC-DOS and MS-DOS are the same, each providing the same capabilities and commands.
The version of DOS release in 1981 was 1.0. Over the past decade, DOS has undergone several changes. Each time the DOS developers release a new version, they increase the version number.
Windows NT (new technology) is an operating system developed by Microsoft. NT is an enhanced version of the popular Microsoft Windows 3.0, 3.1 programmes. NT requires a 386 processor or greater and 8 Mb of RAM. For the best NT performance, you have to use a 486 processor with about 16 Mb or higher. Unlike the Windows, which runs on top of DOS, Windows NT is an operating system itself. However, NT is DOS compatible. The advantage of using NT over Windows is that NT makes better use of the PC's memory management capabilities.
OS/2 is a PC operating system created by IBM. Like NT, OS/2 is DOS compatible and provides a graphical user interface that lets you run programmes with a click of a mouse. Also like NT, OS/2 performs best when you are using a powerful system. Many IBM-based PCs are shipped with OS/2 preinstalled.
UNIX is a multi-user operating system that allows multiple users to access the system. Traditionally, UNIX was run on a larger mini computers to which users accessed the systems using terminals and not PC's. UNIX allowed each user to simultaneously run the programmes they desired. Unlike NT and OS/2, UNIX is not DOS compatible. Most users would not purchase UNIX for their own use.
Windows 95, 98 (Windows 2000), XP are the most popular user-oriented operating systems with a friendly interface and multitasking capabilities. The usage of Windows 95 and its enhanced version Windows 98 is so simple that even little kids learn how to use it very quickly. Windows 95 and 98 are DOS compatible, so all programmes written for DOS may work under the new operating system.
Ex.3. Look through the text again and the questions using the information from the text:
1) What problems faced programmers in the 1940's and 1950's?
2) Why were the first programs ”complex” and ”time-consuming”?
3) What are the basic functions of operating system?
4) What does the abbreviation DOS mean?
5) What company developed the first version of DOS operating system? For
what purpose was it done? Was the new operational system successful?
6) What is the difference between the PC-DOS and MS-DOS?
7) What does the abbreviation NT stand for? Is NT DOS-compatible? What are
the basic requirements for NT?
8) Who is the developer of OS/2?
9) What makes UNIX so different from the other operational systems?
10) What are the special features of Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000,
Ex.4. Match the following:
1) Like NT, ... is DOS compatible and provides a graphical user interface
that lets you run programmes with a click of a mouse.
2) ...is the most commonly used PC operating system
4)... is an operating system developed by Microsoft, an enhanced version of
the popular Microsoft Windows programs.
5) The usage of... is so simple that even little kids learn how to use it very
e) Windows 95
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