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In 1990 while I was enrolled at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic at Tauranga I bought a Taiwanese Eclipse 386 machine (computer) through my tutor, Greg Wagstaff, which had DOS 5 operating system, shrink wrapped and with the Microsoft hologram on the spine of the manual. This was not DR DOS, or IBM DOS 5, but Microsoft DOS 5 on five floppy disks and a manual. Microsoft did not release DOS-5 until mid way through 1991, so how was this possible?

For one explanation  go to this page Starmanx1         

This is my guide to the starman's site.
Who is the Starman? He's a guy, like myself, who has been working with computers from the time of the 8088 chip and before that. To be able to understand what went on in the early 1990's between IBM, Microsoft, intel, Lotus, and the browser manufacturers you must understand a little about assembly code (hexidecimal) and the way  computer boots (powers) up. My opinion, for what it is worth, is on these pages:

If you are not sure, go here

Sub-directories available here are:
: [ MBR ] [bochs] [ debug ] [BIOS] [eicar] [fire] [win32]
(Various pages on Assembly/MS-Debug and the MBR)

What is assembly code, and why would I want to know about it you may ask? If you read about the life and work of Phillip Walter Katz, (later in these pages), you will see he wrote computer code in both the language C, and in assembly (hexidecimal) language, and he compared the two to see which was the most efficient.
You may also have heard of Java, Visual Basic, C++ and JavaScript;

JavaScript has been around since Netscape 2 was released, and it is the language used in your web browser,  illegally copied by Microsoft, and still being distributed by them despite their losing in a court case with the owner of JavaScript, Sun Microsystems, before Oracle bought Sun.

Microsoft Java Virtual Machine - Wikipedia

Jump to Sun vs. Microsoft - Microsoft paid Sun $20 million and the two agreed to a plan for Microsoft to phase out products that included the older version of Microsoft Java that allegedly infringed on Sun's Java copyrights and trademarks. The Microsoft Java Virtual Machine was discontinued in 2003 in response to the Sun Microsystems lawsuit.

The Microsoft Java Virtual Machine (MSJVM) is a discontinued proprietary Java virtual machine from Microsoft. It was first made available for Internet Explorer 3 so that users could run Java applets when browsing on the World Wide Web. It was the fastest Windows-based implementation of a Java virtual machine for the first two years after its release.[1] Sun Microsystems, the creator of Java, sued Microsoft in October 1997 for incompletely implementing the Java 1.1 standard.[2] It was also named in the United States v. Microsoft Corp antitrust civil actions, as an implementation of Microsoft's "Embrace, extend and extinguish" strategy. In 2001, Microsoft settled the lawsuit with Sun and discontinued its Java implementation.

This is interesting if you want to start to learn assembly code (ASM)  You don't need any experience. I worked through it quite easily, (on my old computer) and saw the picture of the fire at the end.
If you don't, you still may want to know how to write a JavaScript, the easiest software ever, or to build your own web site for free, like the one you are on.  Yolasite

If you wish to start learning JavaScript, go here:

   Introducing objects-what JavaScript's made of
   Using the document object to explain objects.
   Functions and creating your own functions

How do I add more than one script to a page without things "screwing up"?

Creating a live clock in JavaScript

More JavaScript tutorials here

Where are we going with all this?
Start with the Bios, the input/output system. The Starman does it comprehensively, but I have added a few pages of my own in an attempt to simplify it for you.

 A History of Bios
(Basic Input/Output System)

Copyright © 2007, 2011, 2012 by Daniel B. Sedory (Starman)

It would take a group of accomplished authors working full-time to produce a textbook on the complete history of the PC BIOS in a reasonable amount of time. It will take us much longer to even produce a brief summary of how PC BIOS code has changed over the years. Though we have provided many details on special topics (such as Checksum Bytes and even some assembly listings), we are limited in the research we can conduct and the access we have to different types of computers. Nevertheless, we hope to provide some data on this subject you may not find anywhere else; we appreciate your feedback.

Though many of the details (and their order) have changed over the years, this is a list of the fundamental operations which the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) code must complete before handing control over to an operating system. Due to the complexity of the modern BIOS, completing these items is now often referred to as the POST (Power On Self Test), since the BIOS has also contained code for many other tasks and features for quite some time:

  • Test the Processor (CPU)
  • Verify its own code using checksums
  • Test Memory; may be preceded by DMA (Direct Memory Access) testing
  • Test the Controller chips on the Motherboard
    • Test that CPU Interrupts can be processed correctly
  • Test and Initialize I/O Interfaces; identify any media drives connected
    • Test any Serial port devices
  • Identify any 'Option ROM' devices with BIOS code of their own
    • Verify any Option ROM code using checksums
    • Allow such devices to run their own BIOS code and return
  • Initialize the BIOS Data Area in Memory
  • Test for indications of an OS Loader on any media
    • Pass control of the PC to that code

As can be seen from the partial list above, a computer's BIOS is inextricably linked to its hardware. Therefore a history of the BIOS code must also include at least an historical summary of changes in PC hardware. Before computers with new processors, other internal devices (such as a real time clock), different types of memory, etc. ever became available to the public, they invariably required changes in the BIOS code. It's important to note the major differences (such as, bus width and addressable memory) in the Intel® processor family (see table below) for any historical study of the PC's BIOS.
(original site)
Except for some early notebook CPUs (e.g., 386SX), all Intel processors from 80386 and later, such as the 80486 (late 1989), were capable of addressing 4 GiB of Memory. But the maximum amount of memory an i486 through 6th-generation CPU based PC (i.e., Pentium™ Pro/-II/-III and Celeron™) could actually use was often determined by the Memory Control chips available to motherboard manufacturers. For example, a particular ASUS™ motherboard (CUSL-2C); circa 2000, designed for Socket 370 Pentium™ III or Celeron™ processors, only supported up to 512 MiB[1] (even though CPUs which could access at least 4 GiB had been available for 15 years) due to the limitations of its MCH (Memory Controller Hub).[2]

The advent of 64-bit processors meant computers might possibly access up to 16 EiB (16 Binary Exa Bytes) of memory at some point in the future. However, all 7th and 8th-generation 64-bit CPUs have been manufactured with far less than 64-bit address lines; 36-bit (for 64 GiB) and now 40-bit (for 1 TiB) are common. As noted above, a PC's chipset (such as its MCH) has often been the limiting factor regarding memory; and is still often true. For example, a GIGABYTE™ GA-G33M-DS2R from 2007, with an LGA775 socket for many different Intel 64-bit CPUs, only supported up to 8 GiB[3] of system memory due to the limitations of its 82G33 Graphics and Memory Controller Hub (GMCH).[4]

Of course, in order to generally make use of more than 4 GiB of RAM, a 64-bit OS is also needed. (Note: PCs with 32-bit OSs often show only about 3.2 to 3.3 GiB available when 4 GiB is installed, since addressable hardware; especially onboard video controllers, may use hundreds of MB for their own support.)

We will have more to say about how BIOS code was affected by changes in the amount of memory these processors could access.

Where is a PC's BIOS code stored? Various types of BIOS chips.

How to Identify your PC's Chipset

The Location of a PC's First Instruction

Virtually every PC, since the very first IBM® Personal Computer produced in 1981, to the latest Intel® or AMD® based PC, has had exactly the same Memory address hard-wired into its CPU as a reference for its first instruction![6]   This means every PC's CPU will always begin executing machine code instructions from essentially the same location inside its BIOS chip, or for PCs that must first move (or decompress) their BIOS code to Memory, from an equivalent location in Memory.
That address is:

F000:FFF0 (in Segment:Offset notation)  or: FFFF0h (in Linear notation). You may also find it represented by FFFF:0000 [See Figure 1 below; as listed in IBM's original Technical Reference manual; P/N 6025008], or as just FFFF:0 (in Normalized Segment:Offset notation). [Read Section 3 of our page on Segment:Offset Addressing to understand why FFFF:0 is equivalent to the Segment:Offset pair F000:FFF0.]

IBM® named this address the "Power On Reset Vector " and it always contains a far jump instruction to the beginning of the BIOS chip's Power-on RESET code. Here's a display of what you'd find in that location and the next 12 bytes of an original IBM® PC's BIOS chip:

Offset: 0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  A  B  C  D  E  F    ASCII chars. 
------ -----------------------------------------------  ---------------- 
0FFFF0 EA 5B E0 00 F0 30 34 2F 32 34 2F 38 31 FF FF EB  .[...04/24/81... 
(The two FF bytes are used as padding and the EB at FFFFFh is the BIOS Checksum byte.)

The first five bytes (shown in green ) comprise the Power-On Reset Far Jump. These 5 bytes disassemble to:

JMP   F000:E05B

As you can see, Segment F000: is embedded inside this instruction, thus the reason its location is often referenced as F000:FFF0. Although the location of this far jump instruction is essentially 'set in stone' for all PC BIOS, it's not a requirement that where it jumps to next always be the same; yet every PC BIOS we've ever examined always jumps to "F000:E05B".

Of the twelve IBM engineers assigned to create the IBM Personal Computer (model 5150), David J. Bradley[7] developed the code for its BIOS. So he's the one who, among all its other details, decided where in Memory the BIOS would place and execute the code from the first sector of the IBM PC's first floppy diskette's Boot Record. The location he chose was 0x7C00 (or 0000:7C00 in Segment:Offset notation). Unlike the first 'jump address' mentioned above (to Offset 0xE05B), later BIOS authors could not have chosen a different location in Memory for loading the initial bootstrap routines without having their code become incompatible with existing boot diskettes! So IBM (and all the PC-clone companies which followed) continued to use that same location in Memory for their hard disk drive's Master Boot Records (MBRs).

(original site )

What Most Can Find Ain't All There Is!
(Or: There's more to modern BIOS code than most have imagined!)

Although you could boot-up your computer with a DOS boot diskette or a CD-ROM disc so there's no chance of its memory being altered by anything but 16-bit real DOS before dumping its contents, even then there's no assurance (without prior research) this will provide you with a copy of all the bytes actually contained in its "BIOS chip(s)". Why? Because the BIOS code may include features that are never retained in memory; for example, a PC company's splash screen that often appears on the display when a computer is first turned on. Or, for example, this familiar EPA ("Energy Star") Logo:

This bit-map file had to be converted from a special AWARD BIOS Bit-map file ("AWBM") after extracting it from an LHA compressed file named "AwardBmp.bmp" stored within a PC's actual 128 KiB BIOS chip.

To see just how sophisticated modern BIOS code has become; using compression and possibly even encrypting its machine code, we've decided to delve into some of the methods used by BIOS manufacturers for our readers. We want you to see how much BIOS code has changed over the decades.

Or, for example, this familiar EPA ("Energy Star") Logo:

This bit-map file had to be converted from a special AWARD BIOS Bit-map file ("AWBM") after extracting it from an LHA compressed file named "AwardBmp.bmp" stored within a PC's actual 128 KiB BIOS chip.

To see just how sophisticated modern BIOS code has become; using compression and possibly even encrypting its machine code, we've decided to delve into some of the methods used by BIOS manufacturers for our readers. We want you to see how much BIOS code has changed over the decades.

This free script provided by
JavaScript Kit

Go to Page 2 of the Starman's guide

Go to Page 1 of Starman-x

For all the facts about the release of Microsoft DOS 5 and all the other DOS versions, go here: Starman-x (three pages)

 A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity (this contrasts with a monopsony which relates to a single entity's control of a market to purchase a good or service, and with oligopoly which consists of a few sellers dominating a market.)

A patent  is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem and is a product or a process.[1]:17 Patents are a form of intellectual property.

Sovereign state
A sovereign state is, in international law, a nonphysical juridical entity that is represented by one centralised government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states.[1] It is also normally understood that a sovereign state is neither dependent on nor subjected to any other power or state.[2]

Intellectual property (IP)
refers to creations of the intellect for which a monopoly is assigned to designated owners by law.[1] Intellectual property rights (IPRs) are the protections granted to the creators of IP, and include trademarks, copyright, patents, industrial design rights, and in some jurisdictions trade secrets.[2] Artistic works including music and literature, as well as discoveries, inventions, words, phrases, symbols, and designs can all be protected as intellectual property.

The intel 80386 chip (introduced in October 1985)  added a 32-bit architecture and a paging translation unit, which made it much easier to implement operating systems that used virtual memory. It also offered support for register debugging.

Well be discussing virtual memory and its location on later pages, but first you may wish to learn more about assembly language on the next page.

Some of the features are mentioned above (virtual memory, register debugging, paging, but how these worked is still somewhat obscure and I hope to clarify things later.

When the first 386 computers were released in 1985 they could use an external modem which used BitCom software Here is the BitCom manual  BitCom

The intel 80386 computer chip used Microsoft DOS 5 which was released in 1991. Again, I will explain why the 80386 worked best with Microsoft DOS 5, later.

Microsoft DOS 5 had software called 'Commands' which included "Edit" which replaced "Edlin" and had an online Help feature. Both are used to "create, edit, save and print ASCII text files". To work online you needed  modem which wasn't included.
A friend bought me one in the United States and sent it to me in late 1990. It came with BitCom software.

Later, Netscape and Microsoft both released browsers.

A browser war is competition for dominance in the usage share of web browsers. The First Browser War was Microsoft's Internet Explorer against Netscape's Navigator during the late 1990s. Browser wars continued with the decline of Internet Explorer's market share since 2003 and the increasing popularity of other browsers including Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

With the introduction of HTML5 and CSS 3, a new generation of browser war began, this time adding extensive client-side scripting to the World Wide Web, as well as more widespread use of smartphones and other mobile devices for browsing the web. These newcomers have ensured that browser battles continue among enthusiasts, while the average web user is less affected by their choice of browser.[2]

 See Browser wars

Netscape Navigator 2 - Wikipedia

Netscape Navigator 2 was a proprietary web browser released by Netscape Communications Corporation as its flagship product. Versions were available for Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, Sun Solaris, and HP-UX.

The browser introduced and improved a number of features and also added proprietary extensions to the HTML standard. Notably, Netscape 2 was the first browser to support JavaScript and animated gifs, two technologies still predominant on the web today.

JavaScript (/ˈɑːvəˌskrɪpt/),[6] often abbreviated as JS, is a high-level, interpreted programming language. It is a language which is also characterized as dynamic, weakly typed, prototype-based and multi-paradigm.

Alongside HTML and CSS, JavaScript is one of the three core technologies of the World Wide Web.[7] JavaScript enables interactive web pages and thus is an essential part of web applications. The vast majority of websites use it,[8] and all major web browsers have a dedicated JavaScript engine to execute it.

As a multi-paradigm language, JavaScript supports event-driven, functional, and imperative (including object-oriented and prototype-based) programming styles. It has an API for working with text, arrays, dates, regular expressions, and basic manipulation of the DOM, but the language itself does not include any I/O, such as networking, storage, or graphics facilities, relying for these upon the host environment in which it is embedded.

Initially only implemented client-side in web browsers, JavaScript engines are now embedded in many other types of host software, including server-side in web servers and databases, and in non-web programs such as word processors and PDF software, and in runtime environments that make JavaScript available for writing mobile and desktop applications, including desktop widgets.

Although there are strong outward similarities between JavaScript and Java, including language name, syntax, and respective standard libraries, the two languages are distinct and differ greatly in design; JavaScript was influenced by programming languages such as Self and Scheme.[9]


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