DOS Versions (Was: IBM PC-DOS 2.10 explorations

Fred Cisin cisin at
Sun Oct 4 14:12:46 CDT 2020

> > MS-DOS 5.00 first version sold RETAIL

On Sun, 4 Oct 2020, Ali wrote:
> Fred,I have to respectfully disagree here. 3.20 was sold in retail. It 
> was packaged in the dark blue packaging which was the norm for MS at 
> that time (after the green packaging of earlier products).  I have a 
> copy sitting up on my shelf (in fact I have both 3.20 and 3.21). 4.00 
> seems to be in the grey oem package but not necessarily branded (i.e. a 
> generic rey box included with new system purchase) . I have not seen 
> anything MS retail before 3.20.-Ali

When IBM announced 3.20, I stood in line outside the IBM retail store in 
Oakland for the doors to open.  Support of 3.5" was important to me.

We need to differentiate between Retail Sales BY MICROSOFT, V manufacture 
and WHOLESALE sales by Microsoft to OEMs for them to retail.  With a WIDE 
variety of different packagings, ranging from personalized to the OEM 
(Compaq, Zenith, Morrow, etc.), very generic, and even packaging that 
would not be out of place for a Microsoft retail sale.

I was unaware of DOS Retail sales done directly by Microsoft prior to 

Although MANY OEMs would sell to anybody with money, most vendors at 
shows, and even stores, were acquiring their inventory from OEMs.

They wouldn't really be called "GRAY MARKET" unless Microsoft's 
terms with the OEM had precluded that.

But, if you have reason to believe that your copies came directly from 
Microsoft, not through an OEM, OR came through a retail store that had 
no affiliation with an OEM, then I need to revise my perception of when 
Microsoft started to retail DOS.  Has anybody ever seen a retail price 
list or RETAIL SALES (V product) ad?  (write/call to purchase)
YES, I can be TOTALLY WRONG.   I felt the elephant's tail and smelled the 
region, but did not have the big picture.

I had even previously speculated that the 1991 date of 5.00 might reflect 
10 year non-competition terms in the original IBM/Microsoft contract(s).

Microsoft certainly did have capability of retail, at least for SOME 
products.  Did they RETAIL the Softcard, or only Wholesale?

In 1979?, Lifeboat (that Microsoft had redirected me to) had 
repeatedly failed to fulfill an urgent need for multiple copies of the new 
Microsoft Fortran for TRS80,  On the way back from the eclipse in Montana, 
I made a stop, and a friend (Bob Wallace) who worked for Microsoft handed 
me the very first couple of copies in the Seattle airport.
The handoff WITHIN state of Washington should have prevented sales tax 
exemption for interstate commerce.  It could still be exempt due to being 
FOR RESALE (although THAT should have required me to fill out forms with 
the WA state taxman), so they might have written it up as being interstate 
(legal if they called me a courier, rather than the customer?)

Grumpy Ol' Fred     		cisin at

More information about the cctalk mailing list