20 November 2010

25 Years Of Windows 1.0

Microsoft Windows original logo

There is an amusing coincidence about this date.  25 years of Windows 1.0 and it was also the celebration of  100 years of the Mexican Revolution.  Two very different historical events, from also completely different ends of the spectrum.  But it does makes for a nice “frame-perfect” symbolical coincidence nonetheless. 


Now, if you truly want to kick back on a quick Nostalgic, but informative trip around Windows 1.0. Nothing better than reading or re-reading its wikipedia entry and launching up some videos on YouTube on the subject. No, I am not kidding. Because otherwise, like with any Historical subject with any weight, you would need up to snuggle up around a book (or a long list of bookmarks), with hundreds of pages for you to get a actual good view of the full story. And that would take, like forever for 2010 terms.

So, from my point of view, it is worthless to even try to tackle that kind of historic insight, in what just needs to be a mere simple blog post mark to acknowledge a fact. Instead I will just tell you what windows 1.0 meant for me since I got a hold on to it and bit of the history I got to ponder upon while that happened. 


Windows 1.0, to me was something that I could not latch on for very long at all. The first Microsoft software I got to use, like with most old enough to be around at the time, was MS-DOS.  In Mexico in particular, it was like if Windows 1.0 would have barely existed. MS-DOS pushed long for far too long, and the Windows OS from Microsoft was a sudden rush of versions here, because I remember that a little before Windows 3.0 was about to go out, then there it was in some local newspapers and magazines, stuff about:

  • Windows 1.0
  • Windows 2.0
  • Windows/286
  • Windows/386

Instead of having known about Windows 1.0, 2.0, /286 and /386 at its due time. we pretty much got hit by a roller-coaster of Windows OS versions here.  This only caused things here to stick with MS-DOS while awaiting for Windows 3.0, which was not adopted widely at all, and only started to shows its head when it became Windows 3.1.  Something that even in the USA and elsewhere was like a signal for everyone to go thinking  “Oh, so this version is going for a long haul, NOW, lets have a look at it”. And boom, the Windows OS exploded like crazy, something evident when you look at the Windows 3.0 versions track:

  • Windows 3.0
  • Windows 3.1
  • Windows 3.11
  • Windows for Workgroups 3.1
  • Windows for Workgroups 3.11

With this I mean, that while Windows 1.0 was the start of something of Massive success and significance, it was a sleeper hit. The reason for this is simple: It was not consumer friendly enough to be a Mainstream success. Because if you look at the success of MS-DOS, it is all around not only the fact that it was pushed by that also historical IBM-Microsoft deal, it was that it was good enough, friendly enough and “best well-rounded product” enough. This last means that it had all the good it needed to have from all the other versions of DOS around.  This very same, happened with with the first Windows OS age from 1.0 to 3.11. Windows OS 3.0 family line getting to be that “it” once again.

It is very hard to put in perspective how complicated this whole deal was, but during the time Microsoft appeared and until 1995. There was a big rush of Computer OSes and PC Maker wars that looked like a never ending struggle. It was not until Windows 95 appeared and pretty much finished both conflicts when it rose to full dominance over all other OSes. That the PC landscape became something familiar, approachable that could the leak into people lives and the day-to-day of the world. Much to the chagrin and rage of many, but that is how things were and still are for that matter. But, I am not going to get into that truly never ending discussion.

At my end, I saw this whole thing play out from a few TV newscasts and mostly from imported magazines ,apart from what I managed to get a hands-on of in person. In my house, thank to the fact that my Dad was very much into Tech and providing it, I got to play and live with the Atari, The Amiga PC and then a PS/S1 IBM PC (with MS-DOS) that I kid you not, we paid half on supermarket coupons, what looking back was still a fortune compared to now, that you can buy low-end netbooks for as low as $100 at drugstores.  In that same IBM machine, and thanks to some connections, I got to see up to Windows 3.11. But, It of course ran slow as hell, so we jumped to another machine that got to see Windows 3.11, MS-IBM OS/2 and finally Windows 95.  But again, with Windows 95 it was obvious we needed a new machine. So a jump to another that got to see from Windows 95 to Windows 2000 was made.  3 machines that I look on as part of my experience of the 90’s.

Outside my home experience I did got to try the commodore 64, 128, other versions of AMIGA, BeOS, Apple Mac’s, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Good times. Times that would have not been possible without the sleeper hit that Windows 1.0 was.

I raise my glass to you Windows 1.0, even if most of the world and I, hardly knew you and your competitors laughed at your face when your first arrived. In the end, you had the last laugh and a firm spot on history. Cheers to you.

Now, if you excuse me, I am going to be running a Virtualized Windows 1.0 in this Windows 7 laptop to force the past meet with the present.


ChaCha Fance said...

Windows 1.0 to me is soooo ancient!! When I REALLY started using PCs it was on Windows '98 and ME came out a little after that.

Kelly B said...

My boss got the first version of Windows, but didn't put it on my computer, so I was stuck with DOS until Windows 3.1.

I did get to LOOK at the early versions of Windows, but he would never let me use it.

Avatar X said...

@ChaCha Fance:

If you say that you started using PC's with Win 98 and that a little later ME was out, then you actually started with Win 98SE.

@Kelly B:

Well, there you go. Your personal experience supports my point that the world only truly remembers and widely used MS-DOS and Win 3.1 before the big jump to Win 95.

What surprises me the most is that if you got to some Old Bakeries here in Mexico City, you can see cashiers using MS-DOS and Win 3.1. Any time i see something still using them, i am left in awe of how damn resilent MS-DOS and Win 3.1 are and also that they have 30 years old equipment still happily chugging along 2010.




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