Microsoft Windows in 1985

Windows 1.0 - 1985

How sophisticated you would have been in the mid 1980s, with a Personal Computer, and Microsoft Windows 1.0 with its built-in word-processor – Microsoft Write

Word Processing in the mid 1980s with Microsoft Windows 1.0 and Microsoft Write

But in comparison with today’s Windows systems, this very first version was mind-bogglingly small and uncomplicated. It had to be. In the mid ‘80s, computer memory was measured in mere kilobytes, and the processors would invariably run at excruciatingly slow speeds of less than 10 megahertz.

In fact, most PC systems at the time would still be using the early 8088 processors of below 5 megahertz. Given the microscopic amounts of available storage space, and the virtually non-existent system resources, the original Microsoft Windows had to be incredibly compact and undemanding. Programs like the calculator shown above were not exactly groundbreaking in the world of technology, but they were among the limited number of apps which could be incorporated without overstretching the hardware…

Mathematics in the mid 1980s with Microsoft Windows 1.0 and Microsoft Calculator

Windows 1.0 went to market in November 1985, as Microsoft’s first graphical offering for the PC. The Microsoft operating system of the day was the text-based MS-DOS, and the consumer uptake on Windows was pretty reserved. Windows didn’t fully supersede MS-DOS as the core Microsoft OS for almost another decade.

The entire original Windows system had just 14 program files, two of which had the same function. Included in the programs were a clock, a single, solitary game, a control panel, a clipboard viewer, and of course the apps you see depicted in this post. In fact, setting aside the 55 PIF files designed to facilitate communication with various floppy disks, there were just 39 files in total in the Windows directory, which was the only folder Windows 1.0 possessed. A Windows system with fewer than 100 files? Absolutely true, but that didn’t stop it from offering useful utilities like this calendar/diary…

Keeping a diary in the mid 1980s with Microsoft Windows 1.0 and Microsoft Calendar

So, as you can see, I’ve turned my back on new technology this Christmas (well, almost), and had a play around with the technology of the past. Might just head back towards something a bit more modern tomorrow though.

Author: Bob Leggitt


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