github.com/Microsoft/MS-DOS/tr

"The user manual contains some significant errors. Most of these are due to last minute changes to achieve a greater degree of compatibility with IBM's implementation of MS-DOS (PC DOS). This includes the use
of "\" instead of "/" as the path separator, and "/" instead of "-"
as the switch character."

it's always kind of interesting when you encounter a fossil trace of someone's Giant Mistake as it happened.

@brennen The weird thing about this is that "/" was the switch character on RT-11, which CP/M imitated (including using "/" as the switch character in PIP.COM), and MS-DOS 1.0 was a carbon copy of CP/M (though I don't remember if it had PIP).

@kragen @brennen There's a reason why MS-DOS 2.0 specifically was planned to use / as the path separator and - as the switch, though.

MS-DOS 1.x was absolutely a CP/M clone, but MS-DOS 2.0 was intended to be something entirely different - the eventual goal was to turn MS-DOS into a single-user, single-tasking Unixlike, with Xenix binary compatibility (much like the goal of Heinz Lycklama's Version 6 Unix-derived LSX).

Obviously things did not ultimately go that direction, but a fair amount of Unix semantics made it into MS-DOS as a result anyway.

@bhtooefr @kragen @brennen
This is something I hadn't heard!

I knew that directories were one of several features Microsoft added that were taken from UNIX, & that Microsoft's status as a UNIX vendor at the time was related, but I was unaware of any plan to make them actually binary-compatible! That would have been a very interesting system.

Was Xenix even using 16 bit words? Unix on micros usually had 18-bit words, right?

@enkiv2@eldritch.cafe @bhtooefr@cathoderay.tube @kragen@nerdculture.de @brennen@mastodon.social Unix on micros and minis used 16-bit words, afaik there's actually never been a port of UNIX to an architecture that uses a non power of two word size but I could be wrong about that.

@ACE_Recliner @brennen @bhtooefr @kragen
Huh, that strikes me as odd. I was pretty sure that earlier PDP models than the one UNIX was developed on had 18 bit words, & it seems a little weird to change the word length to something without common factors. But, that was early days & maybe digital didn't care the way intel did.

I recall that, somehow, MINIX had 9-bit *bytes*. (At least, a friend who was porting MINIX to modern hardware said that & I don't think he was screwing with me.)

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@enkiv2 @ACE_Recliner @brennen @bhtooefr @kragen Minix was initially released for the 8086, as I recall; I think he was pulling your leg.

@vertigo @ACE_Recliner @brennen @bhtooefr @kragen
I'm sorry, I meant to write MULTICS. (No idea how I managed to screw that one up!)

@enkiv2 @kragen @brennen @ACE_Recliner @vertigo 9 bits on the hardware that MULTICS ran on is completely reasonable, they were 36-bit architectures. You had either 9 or 6-bit bytes commonly, as a result.

@bhtooefr @kragen @brennen @ACE_Recliner @vertigo
Yup. It was surprising to me since I thought byte length was standardized even when word length wasn't divisible by it.

Apparently assumptions about byte & word length were all over the codebase & gave him lots of hassle.

I recall hearing about a working port a while back but I have no idea if it's the same one this guy was working on. He moved to finland suddenly & then later dropped off the grid.

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