What OS did early home computers use?

GunsMadeAmericaFree

Golden Member
Jan 23, 2007
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I've been wondering what operating systems some of the early home computers used - such as:

Apple II
TRS-80
Atari 400/800
Sinclair series
TI 99/4a
VIC 20/C64
etc.

The TI 99/4a at 3 MHz was my first home computer, and later I moved on to DOS. I've tried looking up what operating systems these older PC's used, however, and haven't seemed to be able to find out.

Anyone have any information on how the early operating systems for these were similar or differed? Thanks so much!
 

TheELF

Diamond Member
Dec 22, 2012
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The atari 4/800 the sinclair and CBM vic 20/c64 all had basic straight in their roms.
So did the Apple II
Anything not having basic in the ROM would boot up DOS from a floppy.

Also the wikipedia page of these systems states the Operating system in the sidebar.
 

GunsMadeAmericaFree

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Jan 23, 2007
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Also the wikipedia page of these systems states the Operating system in the sidebar.


I think I saw that at one point, but recognized it as a programming language, and not an actual operating system. I always thought that programming languages and computer operating systems were two totally different things.
 

Pohemi

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Oct 2, 2004
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I had a Texas Instruments PC I got from my grandfather when I was 7 or 8, it was the TI-99 but I'm not sure if it was the 4 or 4A. It came with TI Basic loaded in the ROM, a book on Basic programming, and had a DOS floppy and book.
 

Oyeve

Lifer
Oct 18, 1999
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It looks like the 400/800 used Atari OS and you had to use a cartridge to load Basic.


My 600XL and the 800XL used Atari Basic built into the ROM.

.
Yep, still have my "basic" cart from my 400. My 800-XL had it built in.
 
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TheELF

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I think I saw that at one point, but recognized it as a programming language, and not an actual operating system. I always thought that programming languages and computer operating systems were two totally different things.
They are different things but there is a lot of overlap especially on old systems because you can use coding to do different stuff and talk to different devices.
As time went on they coded specific tools to do these things so that people wouldn't have to type all the commands in every time, or load them up from tape each time and that became the OS but they all still kept basic or some other language so that people could continue to use their system in the old way and or make new stuff of course.
 

VirtualLarry

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Aug 25, 2001
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The vast majority of micro-computers during that era used a variant of Microsoft BASIC in ROM.

For example, my TRS-80 Color Computer 2, had "Microsoft Extended Color BASIC". And with a Disk Program-Pak cartridge, had a MS DISK BASIC ROM.

For the TRS-80 Color computer, you also have the option of Microware's OS/9, a microcomputer pre-emptively multi-tasking, windowing, *nix-like variant. (*It was not open-source, I don't think.)

For a micro-computer of that era, OS/9 was REALLY slick. You could even run two graphical games at once, RAM permitting, and "ALT-TAB" between them. (I saw this demoed in person.)
 
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JackMDS

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Oct 25, 1999
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The vast majority of micro-computers during that era used a variant of Microsoft BASIC in ROM.

For example, my TRS-80 Color Computer 2, had "Microsoft Extended Color BASIC". And with a Disk Program-Pak cartridge, had a MS DISK BASIC ROM.

For the TRS-80 Color computer, you also have the option of Microware's OS/9, a microcomputer pre-emptively multi-tasking, windowing, *nix-like variant. (*It was not open-source, I don't think.)

For a micro-computer of that era, OS/9 was REALLY slick. You could even run two graphical games at once, RAM permitting, and "ALT-TAB" between them. (I saw this demoed in person.)

Yeah, the TRS-80 Color computer was the best of its era. It was even better then the first version of Apple II.

That said to use it well one needed to replace the Keyboard and learn how to Program in Basic.



:cool:
 

GunsMadeAmericaFree

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Jan 23, 2007
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Huh, so that means when my old TI 99/4a computer turned on, it launched TI Basic, and evidently looked to see if a cartridge was inserted.
 

mxnerd

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Only used APPLE II with Zilog Z80 plugin card running CP/M

Had to exchange floppy disks 6 times to compile a small C program
 
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tcsenter

Lifer
Sep 7, 2001
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EDIT: whoops I didn't read prior posts carefully enough I guess. The Commodore Basic that shipped with C64 was little more than rebranded Microsoft Basic 2.0.
 
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GunsMadeAmericaFree

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I just found a website with a brand new TI 99/4a game posted - amazing, since the system came out in 1979.
I was able to play the program for my son - I had completely forgotten how the programs sounded on audio tape -
much like the modem sounds we all got familiar with in the 90's.
 
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