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The first versions of my software that I developed back in 1991 were DOS-only versions that I wrote using Turbo Pascal. At the time, it never occurred to me that I would actually still be selling these products twenty years later. I never thought to create screenshots and document how the systems looked back then. Today, I'd love to have a visual record of what my software looked like through the ages.

How can I get these old DOS programs to run on a modern computer so I can take pictures of the screens to document and preserve the history of my software and its progression through time?

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migrated from Sep 30 '11 at 2:03

This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

Try the Linux program dosemu. – Paul Tomblin Sep 30 '11 at 1:43
Or if you're on Windows, dosbox – Rei Miyasaka Sep 30 '11 at 1:44
You don't say what the modern OS is. If it's 32-bit then your 16-bit MS-DOS applications would work if they were text mode, graphical applications not so much. With 64-bit you could use DosBox or the other things mentioned here, or XP Mode if you have Windows 7 Professional. – Alan B Sep 30 '11 at 7:50
Coincidentally, I have done exactly the same thing recently with some TP3 programs I wrote circa 1990. The apps mostly work fine in an XP console window. I coded my graphics routines in assembler - using BIOS INT10 services rather than manipulating the video buffer directly. It's amazing that the old 'tiny' model .COM files still run (as does TP3 itself!). – MikeJ-UK Sep 30 '11 at 12:25
up vote 16 down vote accepted

What you want, as mentioned in the comments, is DOSBox. DOSBox is an x86 emulator with DOS that can run all of those applications, even in full screen mode if desired.

Keep in mind that the primary target of DOSBox was for smooth gameplay for legacy games, so support for printing and networking are limited and still in development.

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Do you know if DOSBox can handle direct video writes? I made heavy use of the video buffer back then. – Michael Riley - AKA Gunny Sep 30 '11 at 2:38
@CapeCodGunny yes it does :) – John T Sep 30 '11 at 2:53
thank you... it works great. – Michael Riley - AKA Gunny Oct 1 '11 at 3:23

You can run FreeDos in a virtual machine.

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I run Ubuntu Linux and have installed Qemu. SuperUser won't take my screen shot so I posted it at to show you. I had an old install disk for MS-DOS and read it into a disk image which I then used Qemu to install onto a hard disk image. It's not an emulator, it's the real thing.

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Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 is a good tool, you can install DOS or an older 32-bit Windows operating system in a Virtual machine and should be able to run dos programs in that.

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